In this time of outcry over sequel and remakes, 2016 once again provides a remake of 'classic' cinema in the form of The Magnificent Seven.
Antoine Fuqua swaps Mexican bandits for capitalist/opportunist America as the villain of this modern take on the familiar story with limited, yet well intentioned, success.
With gold in the hills, the aggressively opportunistic Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his swarm of minions descend on the small settlement of Rose Creek, with no other intent than violent takeover. After initial attacks, loss and threats of greater repercussions, the settlers reach out to a band of gun men led by Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to protect them and help them stand against the oncoming oppressive force.
Some would again argue if theres is a need for a Magnificent Seven remake, and they would be well within their rights. This update does at least attempt to make this old tale more current by removing the tricky ethnic issues of Mexican bandit villainy and instead turns our heroes into an (attempted) ethnic cavalcade of heroes. The addition of a female hero would have completed the set, although it could be argued that Hayley Bennett in her role as Emma Cullen ticks that box.
While this is a welcome change, the commentary on capitalist America is somewhat lost given that some of the group are to dedicated justice seekers but in it solely for the promise of money. Given the film has a villain obsessed with wealth and power to also have heroes involved for financial gain is somewhat of a mixed message.
Also problematic is the sheer scale of the body count in the film. In the frontier west money is the chief gain and all conscience over life and death is justified through prayerful confessional solicitations. More cynical viewers may comment that not much has changed! Again Fuqua attempts to speak to this through Ethan Hawke's PTSD suffering Goodnight Robicheaux but sadly rather than fully tackling the issue, a cap is tipped its direction and the shooting continues.
The Magnificent Seven is a perfectly enjoyable romp, with good performances and decent action making it a decent viewing option.
To call these seven gun slinging heroes magnificent though may be a stretch.