‘The Magnificent Seven’ Review

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Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writers: Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennet, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, and Matt Bomer

Synopsis: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Based on the classic Western of the same name, that was based on the classic film by acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa Seven Samurai, Antoine Fuqua brings is take to The Magnificent Seven with his own star-studded cast and great visuals of his own. I’ll be honest, I’ve been looking forward to this – and yes, I’ve seen the originals – but of course I actually don’t mind remakes and knee-jerkingly reject them just at the thought of it. So, was my excitement worth it? Or does it have to take a long walk into the sunset with my head down? Let’s load up our horse and find out.

The Magnificent Seven starts off by showing just what kind of person the heroes would be going through. The town of Rose Creek are being taken over by a mining corporation run by Bartholomew Bouge (Sarsgaard) who wants the townspeople to sell him their land, but when he shoots the husband of Emma Cullen (Bennett) – played by Matt Boomer – she goes to find men to help her and townspeople take back their town. She eventually finds and recruits bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington), who in turn brings in gambler and playboy Josh Farraday (Pratt) to help him bring in the best people to give the town a shot. The two haul in famed sharpshooter Goodnight Robincheaux (Hawke) and his knife-wielding partner Billy Rocks (Lee), an outlaw named Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), tracker Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) and Comanche Native American named Red Harvest (Sensmeier). All seven of them get together to protect the town, even with odds stacked against them. What follows is a grand – or magnificent? – finale that will make any Western fan happy.

(l to r) Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star in Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

(l to r) Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee 

I know I watched the originals, but let’s focus on the Western here, but it was a while ago so I can’t remember too much of it. However, I do know Fuqua’s version is different in its own way, and makes sense for the story he’s trying to tell. I know many won’t, and don’t like the idea of a Magnificent Seven remake – even though it itself is a remake, but whatever – but the film is a lot of fun, and completely worthwhile for new fans or old fans.

The cast is what makes the remake really worthwhile. Washington has worked with Fuqua three times now, and continues to show the duo have a lot of fun together and are great together. Chris Pratt’s Faraday looks like he’s enjoying poking fun at his fellow cast members and being a bit of a playboy, but he does have a sense of pride and duty once everything goes down. Peter Sarsgaard’s Bogue doesn’t have enough screen time as he probably should, which is saying something considering the film is a bit over two hours. Haley Bennett’s Emma Cullen gets a lot of screen time at the beginning, but blends into the background as the film moves forward.

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Ethan Hawke’s Goodnight has an interesting arc, although it takes a while for it to really come up and it kind of just slides away. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Jack Horne is a tracker that gets compared to a bear a lot, Byung-hun Lee’s Billy Rocks is the calm and collective one, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s Vasquez has a nice little rivalry with Faraday, and Martin Sensmeier’s Red Harvest has his moments.

Some, and even I’ll agree with some of it, will say the group gets together is too fast and there isn’t enough conflict between them. Especially since we hear that Jack Horne has killed a lot of Native Americans, and while their interactions with Red Harvest are minimal they never come off as standoffish but slight jabbing. It’s nice dynamic – all the characters have them – but it’s something that I know people will bring up. There are some other things that are never fully developed, but for the most part the film doesn’t suffer that much from it.

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The action is top notch and the final shootout is a sight to see. There is a lot going on in the scene, but you always know where you are and can follow the action throughout. It’s also pretty satisfying considering the film builds up to it for half the film. It also helps that the final shootout is great since right before the ending the film loses some steam and slows down.

All in all, The Magnificent Seven is a great, fun ride of a film. The cast is great and the final shootout is a great time. While the film may not be perfect in terms of some pacing issues and not going fleshing out some details, it is a worthwhile remake to a remake of a remake.

The Magnificent Seven

4 out of 5

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‘The Nice Guys’ Review

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Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Keith David, Beau Knapp, Lois Smith, and Kim Basinger

Synopsis: A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

While the official synopsis doesn’t really give you a good sense of what the film is about, The Nice Guys is a film that has a lot more going on than you would think. Not only that, it’s directed by Shane Black, who has his own style of humor and directing and the film is oozing with it in every scene. So while the description may not pull you in, Black and the cast make the film so much fun to watch.

Set in 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys follows Jackson Healy (Crowe), a hired enforcer, and a private eye Holland March (Gosling), who work together to investigate a case that involves a dead porn star named Misty Mountains – it’s the 70s remember – and the odd connection that it has with Amelia (Qualley), the daughter of a powerful political figure that works at the States Department in Judith Kuttner (Basinger). What follows is a murder mystery with black humor and high jinks that not only takes the characters, but us the audience, along a deep rabbit hole.

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The film is labeled as a spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and while that may not mean anything to people that haven’t seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, if you have watched it, you’ll see the similarities right from the get-go. The characters in March and Healy aren’t great person. Healy beats people up for money and March is a private eye that’s down on his luck and will take advantage of his clients for the money. By default, they are our heroes of the film, but just because they aren’t the purest people in the world, it doesn’t mean they know what the right thing to do is. They both know they have to find Amelia and protect her. It’s the little things they do that make us root for them.

It also helps March and Healy are played by Gosling and Crowe. The two have unbelievable chemistry together and elevate not only the film, but Black and Bagarozzi’s script. Crowe delivers his lines with a perfect deadpan demeanor and Gosling is a bit more of the goof with great physical comedy, like the heavily promoted bathroom stale scene. Even if you don’t like the film itself, I think we can all agree that Gosling and Crowe are perfect in their roles. However, someone who holds their own against these two stars is Angourie Rice, who plays Holly, March’s daughter. Holly is the conscience and moral compass for the characters and the film too you can arguably say.

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The other big players fall just a bit flat for me. Kim Basinger doesn’t have that much screen time, and she doesn’t pop in until the middle of the film. Keith David and Keanu Knapp play two guys who are after Amelia, who pop in-and-out through the film but interact more with Crowe’s Healy than Gosling’s March. One of the weaker characters for me was Margaret Qualley’s Amelia. She plays such in an important role in getting March and Healy together, that when she finally has actual screen time – she spends most of the film in hiding – she doesn’t really impress too much. It’s nothing against Qualley, who does the best with what’s she’s given, but unfortunately, she’s not the best part of the film. Matt Bomer appears in the around the last act of the film, and while I won’t say who he plays, it’s a bit of a shame that he doesn’t have more screen time because he’s a great character that could have been awesome to watch more of.

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All in all, The Nice Guys is a great action comedy mystery noir thriller. Yes, it’s all those things, and Shane Black makes it work smoothly with his great cast of Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Angourie Rice. The black comedy aspect works so well here and for the characters that we are introduced to. The film does lag for a bit, but the characters and chemistry between keeps those lagging moments to a minimum. The Nice Guys may not be for everyone, but it sure is a hell of a ride.

 

The Nice Guys

4 out of 5