SPOILERS: Going into Magnificent Seven, I really wasn’t sure to what to expect. It’s a film coming at the tail end of the summer movie season that really hasn’t gotten as much advertising buzz as most other films. Safe to say, Magnificent Seven is better than half of them. It’s also safe to say if you’ve seen one western, you’ve probably seen everything that’s to be seen here. That doesn’t stop the movie from being one hell of a ride. Now is it a perfect movie? No far from it, but as far as a western can go, this is pretty darn close. It all comes down to three things: Action, Story, and Emotion.
Firstly, the director, Antoine Fuqua, knows how to direct a shootout. Even when the poo hits the metaphorical fan, cutting between seven-eight individual characters, you really don’t focus or concentration on what’s happening and that just makes the gigantic shootout scenes that much better. When I say gigantic, I mean gigantic. Like a Rambo size army comes at our heroes with all they got and it all comes together cohesively and sanely. When it’s all said and done, that last action sequence, effectively taking the last act of the movie, is more than worth the price of admission. There are so many people shooting and dying it’s pretty darn exciting. The Gatling gun at the end just laid out everybody who was standing and it just fun to lay back and see people get annihilated. They even get a way to work in some good deus ex machina dynamite sticks in the movie, and they always make a movie more fun.
This is a story of revenge, and a pretty good one at that. This movies Achilles heel is pacing. At over two hours long, sometimes this movie is either moving way to fast or leaving you scratching your head wondering why this scene was left in the film. For example, the seven drive the corrupt sheriff out of town to tell the villain that they’re taking charge. Denzel Washington then concludes exactly how the bad guy responds. The problem is that we still get the scene where the bad guy does what Washington’s character says. We already firmly believe at this point that Denzel’s character is a very smart man who would be able to predict these things, the only thing that we see from this scene is the confirmation that he was right as well as the sheriff being killed, which is not necessary for the story and those minutes of screen time could’ve been used elsewhere. Though considering that it had to introduce to not only our seven heroes, heroine and side characters, they also had to give us a villain to completely dislike as well as a series of events to lead to a satisfying conclusion. So a bit of messiness about how much time is given to certain characters is forgivable. Though, I am kind of curious how the move calls itself Magnificent Seven when actually the entire town they’re helping also joins in the fight, but that might be a bit nitpicky. Also, I do have a small problem with the ending. I know it’s meant to end upbeat and hopeful, but a ton of people in the town died. Like at least half of the people in this town are dead as dirt. The entire town is covered with bullet holes and dead people and the survivors of the seven just ride off.
“Thanks for saving our town and all, but can you guys help these 200 dead people? Wait where you guys going? Guys… oh shi-“
The biggest thing to suffer from the pacing problems was the character development. Obviously, with seven heroes, some are going to get the short end of the stick, but a lot of them get the short end. Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are the stars here, and they get plenty of screen time. Denzel’s character is hiding something from the start of the movie, and if the movie gave us a bit more to go on, the revelation that the villain was responsible for the death of his mother and sisters would’ve been a bit more substantial. Chris Pratt…well he’s Chris Pratt. I can’t say it’s not entertaining as hell to watch him screen. Ethan Hawke is probably the next down the line as far as screen time goes, the funny thing is he’s got the most developed and interesting backstory and his relationship to Denzel is a pretty nice touch. Everybody else in the seven is just kind of…there. None of them have any real distinction other than their casting. There’s the Native American who uses a bow and arrow, the mountain man who’s big and uses physical force etc. Now these aren’t stereotypes by any means, it’s just that the film lacked the time to give any of them any sort of development. That being said, the interplay between the characters almost makes you forget about that. Seriously I didn’t expect to chuckle as much as I did. Everyone had at least one or two great lines and it does make you like and care for them in absence of character development. You also feel for them when team members bite the dust. I was actually expecting all of them to make it out, so when they started dropping I was kind of surprised. Chris Pratt does get the best sendoff of the movie.
Would I recommend you to go see Magnificent Seven? Yes, I would.