By Chris Edwards, reviewing from Vue Piccadilly.
Who doesn’t want to see Denzel Washington hang off the side of a horse while shooting scores of goons with bionic-like precision? It’s a wondrous sight that epitomizes Antoine Fuqua’s action-packed remake of The Magnificent Seven. The two last worked together on The Equalizer, a vigilante action thriller that bears resemblance to their latest project. While Fuqua pays homage to the Western genre as a whole in his new film, this reboot is essentially a modern shooter that just happens to include cowboys.
Fuqua doesn’t divert too far from the original story, appreciating its simplicity as a solid platform for piling up bodies; he simply changes the names of places and characters. This time it’s Bartholomew Bogue, a greedy industrialist with a slight god complex, who seizes control of the Old West town of Rock Creek. With no one else to turn to for help, resident Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) takes it upon herself to hire bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington). He in turn recruits six other gunslingers, including gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), rifleman Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-thrower Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia Rulfo), and Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Together, they defend the town from Bogue and his men, simultaneously discovering how useless the locals are at firing guns.
Of course, there are bound to be clichés, but Fuqua uses them sparingly, like crowd-pleasing golden nuggets, waiting to be picked out by a nostalgic audience. After all, it wouldn’t be a proper Western without Washington opening the doors of a saloon bar and attracting wary stares from the entire room.
It’s a genre Fuqua clearly understands, yet is keen to reinvigorate with various high-concept ideas. This is evident in the final showdown, which amplifies the original’s by about two hundred sticks of dynamite. When the town starts spontaneously combusting, Fuqua’s commitment to sparking new life into the genre couldn't be clearer.
You’ll love this film if you want to see Westerns come back in a big way.
See this film with someone who appreciates old school action.
Before the film, get a taste for America at Soho’s no-nonsense restaurant Burger & Lobster.
After the film, head to El Camion Soho, a Mexican bar and restaurant that thinks it’s never too early for tequila and never too late for tacos.
And for an authentic Western experience, stroll into Soho’s Red Dog Saloon.