Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

The Magnificent Seven

Unlucky For Some

I tend to dislike a lot of things that other people seem to love. The Apprentice? That programme is just a shameless re-skinning of Big Brother filled with egotistical ball bags. They don’t even get a job now. They just get given 20k, told to fuck off and never to speak to Lord Sugar-tits again.

Then again, I like a lot of things that other people hate like blue cheese – how could you not like sweaty mouldy cheese slopping around your taste-buds?! Perhaps that’s why I like The Magnificent Seven even though it’s not a brilliant film.

I guess I’ve never felt at home with whatever “normality” is so I tend to gravitate to films that feature characters that don’t seem to fit in and especially ones that are self-aware about it.

If you don’t know, The Magnificent Seven is based on a remake of a re-imagining of Seven Samurai which is not just one of my favourite films but one of the best ever made. Don’t take my word for it – it’s currently number 19 on IMDB’s top 250 films.

What made this 1950’s black and white Japanese language film so incredible was partly its incredible cinematography but more importantly its almost unparalleled characterisation of each of the 7 characters, even by today’s standards.

I was really pleased to see this was a key focus in this latest offering. You only need to see the star power thrown at the film to know this is true with Denzel Washington being the effortlessly cool and focused bounty hunter Chisolm and flavour of the month Chris Pratt playing the mischievous gambler Josh Faraday.

Admittedly, making each of the main characters different nationalities is an easy way to differentiate your main cast but they work really well together whether it be Red Indian scalp hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the disavowed Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) or Civil War vet  and sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his mysterious, badass, east asian protector Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee).

The film even manages to portray a vile and threatening villain in Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) which is a welcome break from some recent lacklustre offerings from the Superhero genre.

The rest of the film however is middling to bad and the main culprit  is the lack of any quality writing which is ironically the problem with my blog too. Much of the dialogue is only there to push forward the story and is at times clichéd and obvious so treat this like every Christmas day after the age of 21 and don’t expect any surprises!

Haley Bennett is the only female character of note and plays the maiden in distress who initiates the help of the magnificent seven but is offered precious little screen time even though she has been well trained with a rifle and could have easily have been worked in as a replacement or addition to the one of the seven.

The action scenes at times try to feel gritty and traumatic but the need to appeal all creatures great and small by getting that juicy 12a rating means it has to pull its punches and therefore has a weird disconnect between scenes of humour, futility and devastation. Scenes that are so much more saccharine in Seven Samurai.

Yet for the same reason there is an over-riding joyousness to much of the film making incredibly fun to watch even if it’s technically not a great film but again don’t trust me I’m not normal.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Characters
+ It’s fun!
+ The Bogue-y man


– Poor dialogue
– Haley Bennett under-utilised
– Could have been grittier

Stars_4

Advertisements

The Equalizer

Denzel + DIY – Russians = izer

You know when you walk into McDonalds or Burger King and you see a picture of the “food” you are about to imbibe and it looks really great. When it arrives it’s a different story right? You open that box you are confronted by what looks to be some sort of rodent that crawled between a pair of ear muffs and promptly died. It happens almost every time so you set your expectations accordingly. It’s going to look terrible. Then, once in a blue moon, you open that box and the burger is less dry and anemic than usual but not only that, the top of the burger is still attached to the rest of it – almost like this one wasn’t made during an earthquake. Amazing!

So, it’s always interesting coming out of the cinema and eavesdropping everyone else’s conversations. “Did you enjoy that?”. “Yeah, I did – I thought it was very good!”. “Me too! I really liked it”. “……..bit weird”. “Yeah, it was a bit weird”. I know exactly why they thought it was weird: it’s because they watched the arse-cabbage that is the trailer. It was a bland, anemic lump of explosions and punching people sandwiched in the middle of two doughy Denzel buns. It looks like every other generic action burger… err… movie. Expectations set low. Already calling this as a 2 star review.

I forgot to check the moon tonight but it must be at least baby blue because this film was pretty fucking decent. The film opens like it’s been shot in HDR which makes it look like someone has painted a highly stylized version of our ordinary world. The colours are similar yet slightly other-wordly, there is a faint glow to the whites whilst the black are super black. The cinematography continues in this way throughout the film and it’s really pleasing on eye. It’s the sort of imagery that you could almost place in a computer game cut scene.

We are quickly introduced to our hero Robert (Denzel Washington) who, thank god, isn’t his normal quick witted, smart mouthed, cock-sure, if-he-talks-back-just-shoot-the-shit-out-of-him character. Robert is a really introverted character who likes nothing more than to be left alone to read his books. He is the epitome of the gracious old man as he tries to help people to be better but won’t force it upon them.

Robert clearly has OCD. He is methodical in everything he does, he has a routine and he sticks to it. It’s a fascinating trait that is never really developed or explained but this actually adds intrigue as to who this solitary character is and why he is this way. The film does a great job of revealing just enough for you to empathize with him but doesn’t spell anything out specifically.

It’s obvious that he’s had some sort of special training but is currently trying to live a normal life. That all changes when he feels compelled to help a local prostitute Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) who gets beaten blacker than a McDonalds burger and bluer than the current moon.

This scene is the main one you see in the trailer where Robert takes out a group of Russians in 19 or whatever seconds. The trailer misleads you and spoils an otherwise decent scene because the build up and aftermath is both humble and saddening. The main point of the scene is that Robert is trying to play the pacifist and not that he walks into a room and decimates it as fast as possible like the trailer would have you believe.

This scene acts as the catalyst that snowballs the rest of the film. Some people may find the build up a little slow but it is all necessary to sow the films plot together, which it does surprisingly well – as much as that sodding trailer tries to spoil it for you. The script is mostly fine and with the exception of a few dodgy lines it expands Robert inner turmoil of the actions he is taking. The only other thing that made my eyes roll was the generic ‘cool guys don’t look at explosions’ scene which wasn’t really necessary, didnt fit with the rest of the film and to be honest; poorly done.

Still the final action scene when we see Robert face down a brutal Russian ‘Fixer’ called Teddy (Marton Csokas) is thoroughly enjoyable. The scene is set in the DIY store where Robert works by day and it’s really entertaining to see how he uses various tools (wires, drills, blowtorches etc) to dispatches his enemies as methodically as he sets out his knives and forks for dinner. It’s almost like a perfect run-through of Splinter Cell or some other stealth computer game. He really can do it when he B&Q’s it.

Go See

  • Drill Sergent in the home improvement store
  • Tasty cinematography
  • Methodical and well structured plot

Avoid

  • The trailer. It’s a pile of awful.
  • The ex-bro-sion
  • Slow build up

Overall

4-stars