Washington and Pratt Show True Grit in "The Magnificent Seven"

Movie Review - Jackie K Cooper
"The Magnificent Seven" (MGM/Columbia)

It has been fifty-six years since Yul Brynner played the man in black in "The Magnificent Seven". That movie co-starred Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn among others. It was an Americanized version of Akira Kurosawa's classic film "Seven Samurai." Now we have a new version of "The Magnificent Seven" and it stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke among others. It might not be a magnificent movie -neither was the Yul Brynner version - but it is certainly enjoyable entertainment.

Once again there is a town in danger of being destroyed by a man with a gang. This time out it is Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and he is a villain and a half. Before the opening credits roll he has had several of the good farmers who inhabit the town killed in cold blood.. These events convince farmer's wife Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) the town needs to hire some gunslingers to fight Bogue.

The first person she reaches out to is Sam Chisolm (Washington). Once she has him on board he manages to find six others to join him. Selecting these six takes up the first half of the film. They include a Mexican outlaw named Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a knife throwing expert called Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a mountain man by the name of Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a sharpshooter who goes by the name of Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), and Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), a rip-roaring gunslinger.

The movie takes a little time in making sure the audience gets a glimpse of each of these characters' personalities, which is why it takes the whole first half of the movie to get to the colossal battle that is coming. When the time of battle arrives the "seven" and some of the braver townspeople and farmers go head to head against Bogue and his hired band of killers.

If the script had allowed the audience to better know the "seven" then the casualties in the battle might have had more impact. Still once the fight begins it is a fascinating one. They throw everything but the kitchen sink at each other.

Denzel shines as the mysterious man in black. He has an evil glint in his eyes at times, but he also has moments when you see the real hero beneath his dark clothes. Washington and director Antoine Fuqua have worked together before so Fuqua knows how to showcase the actor's strengths in a film like this.

Chris Pratt has certainly risen quickly to become one of Hollywood's most popular leading men, and the role of Faraday appears to have his name written all over it. Pratt knows these "seven" are not part of the Guardians of the Galaxy so he reins it in a little, but not too much. He still manages to have some quips and snide remarks to add to the goings on.

Haley Bennett is supposed to be the girl of the hour in Hollywood these days. Close on the heels of this movie she will also be seen in "The Girl On the Train." Hopefully she will be able to show more of her talent there than she does here. As Emma she is just the girl with grit who can shoot a gun.

The film is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.

More development of the characters would have made this a better movie, magnificent even; but as soon as the bullets start flying the audience is totally wrapped up in this battle of good versus evil. For a lot of fans of Washington and Pratt that will be enough.

I scored "The Magnificent Seven" a magnificent 6 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper