The Magnificent 7
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Patt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Perplexing ,to say the least! Why would anyone want to remake The Magnificent 7 , an excruciatingly mediocre 1960 Western with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen drawing guns as though there was no tomorrow.
After seeing what this remake does to the original you wish there wasn’t. Neither bloody enough to be scary nor subversive enough to be funny , this remake is just plainly bland and brackish.
Though there are lots of square-killings in the new version of The Magnificent 7, nothing seems sinister ominous or even threatening about the new version of the revenge fable about seven macho men—yawn—hired by a village to vanquish—yawn—a bandit and his ferocious marauders who—yawn yawn—have reduced the villagers to a trembling mass of ineffectual fury.
Quite like us.We feel the same ineffectual fury while seeing Denzel Washington play a colour-blind cowboy. In interviews Washington has revealed how he had always dreamt of playing a cowboy.I wish he had found a less painful public platform to play out his fantasy.
It’s not as though Washington is not convincing as a cowboy. Along with his grimacing co-stars and their posturings as saviours of a town run by a goon industrialist(Peter Saarsgaad, who looks as menacing as Bharati Singh intimidating unsuspecting star guests on Comedy Nights Bachao) the heroic pack drags in a fair amount of bravura in the proceedings.
Unlike the original John Sturges-directed Magnificent 7 and its celebrated Indian avatar Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay , this version of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is denuded of genuine terror. The arch-villain lectures down to the cowering townspeople with a casual swagger, as though he was contemplating a career in roguish godsmanship.Even he shoots in coldblood , the ruthlessness seems a mimicry of sincere evil.
There is little room in the selfsconciously pacy narrative for the characters to grow , let alone become identifiable .Within minutes of meeting the widow Emma(Haley Bennett) Sam Chisolm(Washington) is on board to deal with the villain.In the next 15 minutes he recruits men with machivellian powers of machismo including an assassin called Billy Rocks.
We don’t know or care about Billy. But this film certainly doesn’t rock.Or shock. The sequences of violence, though well executed with the camera chasing the smoking guns with keen vigour, lack genuine thrills. The last half an hour packs in a sufficient quota of smoke fire and combustion(not in any given order). But it all seems stage-managed and sometimes laughably theatrical.
The actors—God bless their skills– try hard to make the remake engaging if not inventive. However director Antoine Fuqua seems too much in awe of the original material(I don’t mean Kurosawa I mean Sturges) to revisit it with any kind of genuine curiosity.
Do yourselves a favour.Re-visit Sholay instead.