The Magnificent 7

⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: Diversity done, if not right, then certainly better than required in an entertaining, action-packed retelling elevated by an excellent cast.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Let's just point out what the Magnificent 7 is not. It is not a blow-for-blow remake of the original; in reality it only borrows the era, small-town setting and total number of main characters. It is also not a thoughtful, meaningful, plot-heavy outing.

It is a bit of fun, with a great ensemble cast giving decent-to-noteworthy performances, well-choreographed action sequences and just enough plot to keep you captivated and interested. Denzel is, well, himself, albeit himself clearly having a lot of fun and proving thoroughly suited to the Western genre. Chris Pratt is as funny and riveting as ever. Ethan Hawke is as weird and gritty as ever.

Basically, you get what you expect: guns, horses, cowboys and a clear delineation of morality. Sure, the "7" aren't exactly the most angelic of individuals, but heroes in Westerns never are, whilst the villain of the piece is so clearly evil he seems permanently one step away from cackling maniacally.

The elephant in the room is Django Unchained, the masterpiece that arguably reinvigorated the genre and likely led to this remake being funded. Clearly, Django remains in an entirely different league to Magnificent 7, with far more interesting characters, settings, plotlines, action and dialogue. There are some clear (even if unintended) homages at work here too; indeed, with a black lynch survivor collecting bounties as your main character this could easily be ret-conned into a sequel. Similarities aside, however, the reality is that Magnificent 7 was clearly never trying to be Django and does successfully manage to tread its own path.

Where Magnificent 7 actually elevates itself is in the diversity of the cast. Sure, it still isn't amazing, but the core group of heroes contains four nationalities, five races and two genders, which is pretty good. Better yet, the diversity doesn't feel forced or needlessly highlighted. For the era, the characters remain racist and sexist in their language, morality being reflected in their actions instead. They're also a well-picked group for the setting, playing with stereotypes that oftentimes feel far too relevant today. Each of the 7 is a social reject, whether due to their race, gender or political affiliation. The only one who doesn't have a clear disadvantage is Pratt's character, whose presence helps ground the rest and blur their boundaries whilst having the clearest redemption arc of the lot. I genuinely found this aspect of the film both clever and refreshingly simple and believe that the writers deserve much credit for that fact.

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