It takes guts to remake a classic movie, and Magnificent Seven (1960) is the classic western with Yul Brynner as the leader of the band and now legendary badass Steve McQueen. The Magnificent Seven itself is a western version of the iconic film Seven Samurai (1954). The latter is considered one of the best movies of all time. The late Roger Ebert sings its praises here.
The question is, did we need another remake? Sure, it’s fun to see who is who if you’re a fan of the 1960 version. Antoine Fuqua sure had some big shoes to fill. Did he succeed in superseding the previous version? No. However, this was not Fuqua’s goal at all. In fact, as a fan of westerns, he has directed The Magnificent Seven as if the other never happened, in the 21st century, which places it right where it should be.
The Magnificent Seven was entertaining, quite violent, had some tense moments and heart . It oozed charisma and bravado, and the cool factor was present. However, it had two flaws – two major flaws.
One, some of the violence and action, although technically well-executed, felt forced and unnecessary. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet (watch it! It’s entertaining), spoilers ahead.
Why did the main baddie save time and money and instead of hiring 200 men use the Gatling gun to begin with? It would have been far more effective and with infinitely less loss of life on his side. Scores of guys fall dead in one shot, and Chris Pratt’s Faraday gets shot repeatedly and still doesn’t die. This was pointed out to me by my thirteen-year-old son.
Secondly, going back to 1954’s Seven Samurai, the film is a piece of art and a part of its culture and time. It’s a story of honor and sacrifice for the greater good – in short, the collective is more important than the individual. The Magnificent Seven is based on this story. It also has its heart honor and sacrifice. Although the 1960 version is less about the collective and more about the individual, it was all about the honor. Doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do, not because it involved a reward or revenge or satisfaction of some sort.
This leads to the major flaw in Magnificent Seven. The whole time you’re watching the movie you’re admiring these men for their bravery and self-sacrifice; then Denzel Washington’s Chisolm tells the main villain Bartholomew Bogue as he’s about to
do justice kill him, he’s also responsible for murdering his mother and sisters.. Nobility apparently needs a reason in today’s day and age – does it?