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:
+ It’s fun!
+ The Bogue-y man
– Poor dialogue
– Haley Bennett under-utilised
– Could have been grittier