Way out west in Hollywood, California, there was one film genre takin’ the land by the reins. It was the only style of film that could be both a mighty fine shindig and blood-spittin’ brawl, the only type of film where heroes and villains never seemed too far from each other. Right around the dusty trail would come another, and another, until Hollywood flooded themselves with these golden movin’ pictures. The good old 1960s was the age of the western.
Nowadays in our modern society, we do not see head or tail of these fellers, but here comes a new day with the risin’ sun, and its blazin’ glory comes from Antoine Fuqua’s “The Magnificent Seven.” It is by no means an original story, seein’ as it is a remake of John Sturges’ picture of the same title, and his picture was based heavily on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” What makes this new film so original is its new style of high stakes directin’, its colorful cast of characters and its brilliant score composed in part by the late James Horner.
Antoine Fuqua is not known for makin’ westerns. I believe this to be his first. Based on his line of work, he’s always prided himself on how well he can capture intense modern-day action. This is seen in some of his pictures, such as “Training Day,” “Olympus Has Fallen,” “Shooter” and “The Equalizer.” A common element in all of these films is Fuqua’s desire to go close in on action scenes, and before the action starts it’s mostly close-ups of the characters themselves. Interestin’ enough, this style of directin’ makes for quite the surefire shootout. It’s rivetin’ seein’ the sweat drip down a man’s brow before he stains his hands with gun powder and crimson. In this way, Fuqua brings his viewers right into the minds of every one of his characters, so you practically know what they are going to do before you hear the “pop, pop, pop” of their glorious shootout. It is a good sign if a film can get you excited for any action scene, especially if its viewers only just saw one about five minutes ago. The characters in this film are a wild bunch, but dadgummit, they’re good. Denzel Washington is our lone pistol-wielder for hire, standin’ out in front of everyone else. He’s got a voice that can stop a fight and an attitude that says “don’t mess with me.” Chris Pratt is a likeable slicker with sharp wit, keen eyes and a purdy wink for all the gals. Anytime he’s on screen all eyes are on him. Aside from Pratt’s role as Peter Quill in that there space film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” this may be his best performance yet. These two stars are accompanied by Ethan Hawke, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Gracia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier and Vincent D’Onofrio. Every single one of them plays well off the other, but they are characters. They are exaggerated personas, and to some viewers that may be a little off-puttin’. But let me put your mind at ease, brother, because these personas are wild, fast, cunning, sharp, soulful, fierce and funny as heck.
The last stand-out part of this here movin’ picture is its magnificent score. It never strays from the moment. It never tries to impress. It heightens what is on screen, and it gives each character a deeper personality. It is a raw sound. It penetrates the soul. The strings bring out the blue hues of the sky. The drums rip up the earth below. The cry of a woman or the whistle in the breeze reminds us of our humanity and mortality. Quite the sight for your ears.
“The Magnificent Seven” is a hoedown worth attendin’ and comin’ back to every so often, but you gotta know what you came for before you go and shell out your hard-earned wages on this here picture. Ask yourself what you are comin’ for. Have you come for wide skies and barren soil? Have you come for the warmth of a woman’s heart and the fire of a man’s spirit? Have you come for drinkin’ and good times before the moon sets and darkness prowls? Have you come for the justice that can only be delivered with the click of a trigger, the fall of a hammer and the release of seven pounds of pressure? Have you come to bathe in the sunlight of glory before it sets on your soul one last time? Then, my friend, you are in the right place.