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The Magnificent Seven (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 132 minutes.

Not for children.

Why? Does the world really need a third iteration of this story? Why would anybody in their right mind want to remake a picture with as outstanding a cast as one that included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Eli Wallach, and James Coburn? Especially when the substituted actors include such non-household names as Byung Hung Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier.

Directed by John Sturges in 1960, each member of the cast gave a performance that could be considered iconic. The film has continued to live in memory as one of the best of the era. Itís certainly one that few who saw will ever forget.

The latter, however, is a different story. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, he puts his particular form of graphic violence into a film that barely makes it off the ground before it descends into a silly finale, a battle that has what appears to be thousands of men fighting a battle to the death over a city that apparently houses fewer than 50 families, a battle which eventually is so long that it seems unending. Every few seconds a bunch of new actors from Central Casting eager to die onscreen appear and are quickly terminated. And even when the battle ends, the film continues to crawl along to an equally unsatisfactory expiration. Well, there was one part of it that was appealing, and that was that it did, in fact, end.

Two appearances are worth noting in a film that requires virtually no acting talent. The first is by Peter Sarsgaard as the bad guy, Bartholomew Bogue. He has a crazed look on his face the entire time, allowing one to truly believe this guy is evil. The other is by Haley Bennett who is so beautiful one might overlook her excellent performance as a high-spirited widow eager for revenge against Bogue.

Denzell Washington looks as if he mailed in his performance and used snail mail to do so. Contrasted with that, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke actually try to make a silk purse out of a sowís ear, but they donít succeed. Other than that, unlike the 1960 film which was filled with memorable performances, this one has not one other performance apart from the four mentioned that anyone will remember for three seconds after exiting the theater. The one emotion I felt was relief that it did finally conclude.