I generally don’t review remakes and normally I stick to science fiction or fantasy for my reviews of movies and books.
I’m making an exception because I enjoyed Magnificent 7. It was a fun, action-filled movie. It didn’t drag out some long-winded message about how terrible our ancestors were (mine were over in Europe) or some weird camera angles with an obtuse story. This was a simple story about seven killers putting down a very bad man and his army.
As remakes go, it’s better than most. In fact, it would have been just fine as a movie by itself, without using the Magnificent 7 title. It still harkens back to the story of Seven Samurai, but that’s fine. That story in itself is simply a retelling of many stories, where heroes are humanized by showing that they possessed human traits and flaws.
In that, Magnificent Seven meets a level of success but also sadly falls short of where it might have been. In part, this is due to the excellent actors they had. They don’t go into the backgrounds of the various characters. This moves the story along, but it also leaves the viewer feeling robbed. I left the theater wanting to know more about the men who had died… this was because of the tremendous actors more than the writing. They managed to portray histories of loss or darkness with a look or a single gesture than they did by words or exposition. In that, we probably have a good director and excellent acting to thank.
In part, I like that because too many hollywood movies have become so explanatory as to be annoying. If someone mentions that at dawn, they’ll move out, it almost feels as if someone will pause to mention that it’ll be light at dawn, so we can see things.
Magnificent Seven doesn’t do these explanations. We don’t know whether most of the men who fight (and die) against the villain are good or bad, we don’t know why many of them chose to fight. We get the sense that some do it for good reasons while others do it merely because fighting is all they know how to do. You can tell they put thought into those reasons and I wanted a bit more on the why.
The action is smooth and the violence is both shocking and satisfying. Though towards the final part, you start to wonder just where the villain got so many mooks willing to charge in and die so readily. The action isn’t hard to follow, though there are some rather severe liberties taken up with one weapon system in particular that had me rolling my eyes. (Spoiler: Gatling Guns should not work like an MG42 and even it might have difficulties achieving such levels of destruction.)
I’d recommend it. The humor and one-liners are fantastic. The action is exciting, the villain is a weasel, and the heroes stand out for the fact that they are courageous despite their flaws.