The Magnificent Seven (2016) Parent Review
The focus on violence steals far too much screen time and robs viewers of the opportunity to discover what motivates these men.
High on the list of movies that really didn’t need to made again is The Magnificent Seven. The 1960 epic is still a solid and worthy watch that teaches a powerful message about assisting others, even when there’s no monetary rewards. So why risk breaking something that isn’t broken? It seems the new Mag 7 has two objectives: Depicting bigger and badder bad guys who are capitalists on steroids and putting together the most diverse crew of heroes one can wedge into a screenplay.
Instead of Mexico, this telling of the story is set in Rose Creek, a hamlet just a few days ride from Sacramento. The Bogue Mining Company is headquartered there. For reasons that aren’t completely fleshed out in the script, its president, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), is intent on ousting every resident of the small village. He is offering them each $20 in exchange for their land. And to make sure they understand how serious he is, Bogue has his minions burn down the church, shoot a few people, and drive an axe into the back of a woman—all while the townsfolk watch in horror.
One of the victims is the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), a fiery redhead who owns enough shoulder-bearing tops to get the attention of a few good men (as well as those in the audience). When she witnesses the precision shooting abilities of a warrant officer named Chisolm (Denzel Washington) she manages to convince him to come to the aid of the town. When she mentions the name Bogue we immediately sense her charm is not the only reason Chisolm agrees to join this fight. Not surprisingly, before the credits roll there’s gonna be a gunfight and a backstory.
Preparing for the showdown, Chisholm and Cullen recruit six additional helpers. Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) is a gambler who loves his liquor and serves to inject the sparse comic relief. Mexicans are represented by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo who plays a gunfighter named Vasquez. The Asian demographic is covered by Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a guy who can kill with only a hairpin or a few other implements he carries with him. Martin Sensmeier, a Native American actor, contributes stereotypical culture in the character of Red Harvest who would rather chew on raw deer entrails than eat White Man food. Rounding up the crew is a mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the conflicted Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a former Civil War fighter who is dealing with PTSD long before it had a label.
This ethnic mix has the awkward feel of an employer needing to maintain an Equal Opportunity quota. Adding to the political correctness is Mrs. Cullen’s demand for a gun. Sure enough, she can shoot as well as the rest of them, prepping us for a sequel titled The Magnificent Eight.
Around the one-hour mark, the team is assembled. We spend the next few minutes attempting to train the locals how to hit the side of a barn, along with a montage of setting booby traps to welcome Bogue’s army—and an army it is. Unlike the 1960 version, this production wants to make sure there are enough ducks in the shooting gallery to keep the action going for the final half-hour. The resulting conflict features countless numbers of characters being shot, stabbed, choked and burned. While the body count is high, for the most part the violence is not explicit and the blood effects are few. Booze, cigars and some ladies of the night adorn the sidelines, providing other content concerns.
Obviously not a film for young children, this remake does still offer positive social messages similar to the original. Religious audiences will also appreciate the appeals to God made in prayer and the faith of the locals to be protected from their adversary. However, the focus on violence steals far too much screen time and robs us of the opportunity to discover more about what motivates these men. In the end, the seven may be considered magnificent for their sacrifice, but the movie itself is just mediocre.Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Haley Bennett. Running time: 132 minutes. Updated September 23, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Magnificent Seven (2016) here.
The Magnificent Seven (2016) Parents Guide
What reasons might a person have to put their life on the line to help someone else? In reality, is money often a factor? What motivated the characters in this movie? What would persuade you to do something like this?
What classic “bad guy” methods do the creators of this movie utilize to depict Bogue? How does his clothing, manner of speaking and body image contribute to his characterization? What other elements, like music and camera angles, add to the effect? Does his name, Bartholomew Bogue, contribute to his negative image as well?
This is the final film that features the music of the late James Horner. With over 150 composing credits for an amazing variety of movies, this creative man tragically died in a plane crash in June 2015. Here’s a complete list of James Horner’s extensive credits.