Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Peter Sarsgaard
Synopsis: There’s something about this story of seven experts defending a town down on its luck that appeals to audiences. In 1954, famed director Akira Kurosawa delivered “Seven Samurai,” about a seven unemployed samurai hired to defend a poor village from bandits. Six years later, in 1960, it was adapted into “The Magnificent Seven,” a western that changed the format to gun slingers and the location to Mexico. We’ve long since passed the time when westerns were common or the popular form of storytelling, but when they’re done well, it’s still a genre that brings audiences to the theater. That’s what director Antoine Fuqua does with his new version of “The Magnificent Seven.” The characters and setting have again changed, but the spirit remains the same. Seven men come together to defend a wayward town against a bandit — in this case a land baron who wants to take their town to service his gold mine. The names and character back stories have changed, but the idea of this story remains the same. Seven strangers with a unique skill set find some note of redemption in helping protect a town of innocent people from a villainous tyrant. And it’s the perfect kind of film for Fuqua, who’s a strong visual filmmaker that excels with action sequences. In the past he’s done films like “The Replacement Killers,” “King Arthur” and “Training Day,” and he has a great feel for this kind of story. He’s also assembled a strong cast. The script for the film is written Nic Pizzolatto (“True Detective”) and Richard Wenk (“The Equalizer”). The writers do a nice job of weaving in some humor and building back stories for all the heroes that draws you into the narrative. The casting works well here, too. Washington is ideal in the lead role in this film. He brings a gravitas to the role, and is totally comfortable in the action sequences. His character carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Washington does a nice job of capturing that introspective quality. The rest of the cast works well, too. Sarsgaard is saddled with a somewhat one-dimensional villain, but makes the most of it. Pratt has fun as the wise-cracking gambler, adding plenty to the humorous moments of the film. And Hawke sinks into his role as a sniper who’s still suffering the effects of what he experienced and saw in war. That helps add depth to this story. This movie is what you expect it to be. There’s some interesting characters, decent performances and plenty of action. That’s what the Western genre is at its best. The heroes ride into town, save the day and head out again. That’s what you expect from “The Magnificent Seven,” and that’s what you get. And it all comes in a fun and entertaining ride.
Rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.
Friday, September 30 — "Queen of Katwe," "Masterminds," "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," "Deepwater Horizon"