Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Lee Byung-hun, Vincent D'Onofrio, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Matt Bomer, Luke Grimes, Jonathan Joss, Cam Gigandet.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay: Nic Pizzolatto, John Lee Hancock & Richard Wenk.
Due to my laziness I never got around to watching Seven Samurai (1954) or it's american remake The Magnificent Seven (1960) which means I went into the remake of the remake without any previous understanding of the plot. In a way I am happy about that so I could watch this movie as its own thing; that being said, its own thing is nothing too tremendous and now I am looking forward to watching the originals with added appreciation of what this mediocre western could actually be.
I mean its fine, relatively entertaining and the last hour really starts to get interesting. The cast is pretty on point, however they really needed to give Denzel Washington (playing Sam Chisolm) something to actually do in this picture because I am struggling to remember anything substantial from his character which is crazy when you have such an incredible talent centre stage. There are segments in here that really try to get you to care for this bunch of misfits, they all get glorious deaths and one-liners that should get stuck in your head, sadly none of these land with any oomph. I think this comes down to the movie never spending any time to get to know these men or their relationship with one another except for a few throw in scenes.
However, there are a few that do marginally stand out from the rest of the pack; that being Ethan Hawke's Goodnight, Lee Byung-hun's Billy Rocks, and Peter Sarsgaard's Bartholomew Bogue. Bogue is the stereotypical capitalist villain but Sarsgaard has a way of making this guy interesting–that may just come down to his charisma and beautiful face. The further along the plot goes the more intriguing he becomes, not because of his actions but more down to the nuances of Sarsgaard's reactions to what is happening around him.
In regards to Goodnight and Billy Rocks, their relationship is so goddamn fascinating and I am wondering if Fuqua and his writing team really did intend this relationship to be more than platonic. This relationship goes beyond a white and Chinese man accepting each other but something deeper. There is quite a bit of symbolism here, the most obvious being when Goodnight returns to the team because as Billy points out he left something behind; that being his whiskey flask which so happens to be inside Billy's breast pocket right next to his heart. COME ON!
This film is pretty, but there are in fact a few shots that are randomly out of focus which is very plain to see when Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt) is performing a card trick to get out of getting shot. The lens seems to be focussed on the rim of his pretty, pretty hat instead of on this pretty, pretty face.
But I had fun watching The Magnificent Seven (2016), and this might just give me the kick up the butt to finally watch the original and the original remake.