Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven is a full throttle, violent, relatively enjoyable experience, a film that coasts along on its strong overall performances, action, and heavy-handed message. Antoine Fuqua's retelling of the classic story takes place in the small town of Rose Creek, where Bartholomew Bogue, a greed-fueled industrialist, has overtaken the town by force, intent on mining the town's land for gold in an effort to satisfy his unquenchable thirst for money. Slaughtering the townspeople who won't secede their land to him, the surviving townspeople employ protection from seven drifters, a group of men made up of bounty hunters, outlaws, and guns for hire. Preparing to defend the town from the violent showdown that is just around the corner, these seven mercenaries for hire soon find themselves fighting for a cause that goes far beyond mere money. An action movie taking place in a Western setting, The Magnificent Seven has very little in common with the Western genre, exhibiting a cinematic style far more akin to the action films that have defined Antoine Fuqua's career. The cinematography is far too restrictive from a composition perspective, never visually expressing the scope of the great western frontier, often relying far too much on tight compositions that show off the mayhem and accentuate the performances of this talented cast. The action sequences are very violent for a PG-13 film, with the propensity of death throughout The Magnificent Seven feeling borderline overkill at times, as if the filmmakers took a little too much glee in the extermination of human life, though that is to be somewhat expected given the very cut-and-dry, black-and-white, nature of good and evil in this film. Make no mistake, the action in the finale is chaotic and entertaining, with the final 45 minutes of The Magnificent Seven finding the filmmaker in his natural element, one where chaos reigns and our protagonists finally get their blood-soaked revenge. Denzel Washington's performance is another generic Denzel Washington performance, a character who feels unstoppable and heroic, yet whose personal motives, which were quite predictable I might add, cheapen the film's overall message of human empathy and sacrifice for others. The stand out for me is by far Vincent D'Onofrio, who steals the show as one of the seven outlaws, doing his best Orson Welles impression as he reminds the audience that he is a damn national treasure due to his ability to always elevate a film, regardless of its shortcomings. While those fan's of the Western genre may be disappointed, Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven is a piece of fast-paced escapism, a film that is quite entertaining as long as one as able to look past its laughably, heavy-handed thematically elements.
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