Film Review: The Magnificent Seven

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke. Directed by Antoine Fuqua.

The Magnificent Seven (a remake of the 1960 film of the same name) contains all that you love from a western action flick: outlaws, guns, and cocky shoot-outs.

Set in the late 1800s, shortly after the American civil war, bounty hunter Sam Chisholm (Washington) is approached by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), a woman left widowed by a bad dude named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Saarsgard). Bogue had arrived to her small town, Rose Creek, burned down their church and killed innocent people in cold blood.

Before too long, Chisholm is navigating the west and pulling together a ragtag bunch of outlaws to help him find Bogue and defend Rose Creek and its innocent civilians from his Bogueymen. This, in a nutshell, is the extent of the story. Not much detail is given as to why the seven outlaws band together, which is a shame for a film of over 120 minutes.

Director Antoine Fuqua is best known for action flicks with a high body count (Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer), and this is no different. The Magnificent Seven is very violent – not as much as cousin The Hateful Eight, but there’s plenty of gunfights and horse riders shot from their saddles – resulting in many orphaned horses. Where the film struggles is when it tries to match humour to the action. Chris Pratt brings his usual comic flair to the table, but it feels out of place amongst the bloodshed. It is refreshing however, to see such a racially diverse cast represented on screen – something Fuqua fought to make happen.

Each of the seven have their own motivations to defend Rose Creek, and their own understandings of justice. Emma Cullen, who initiates the hunt for Bogue, and plenty of bloodshed, is questioned whether the pursuit is an act of righteousness or revenge – and she asserts that it is revenge. For her, justice and revenge are one and the same, because of the loss she experienced at the hand of Bogue. She wants vengeance. But her idea of finding justice results in the deaths of many innocent people who get caught in the middle.

The Bible says plenty about justice – it is a grand narrative of God working to restore a broken world through bringing final justice. God’s people are commanded to ‘act justly’ (Micah 6:8), but also to remember that God will bring ultimate justice. Romans 12:19 –

‘“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.’

For Emma, and any of the seven, to try and fix things through revenge will only end in a mess. For God though, he will bring true justice in his righteousness.

The Verdict: The Magnificent Seven is another remake that probably didn’t need to happen, but it is a fun popcorn experience. 3.5/5

The Magnificent Seven releases in US cinemas later this week, and in Australian cinemas next Thursday, 29th September.

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