By Mike Sullivan | For Weekender

Movie Review: ‘Maginificent Seven’ wallows in cliches of the past

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In this image, Byung-hun Lee, from left, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio and Martin Sensmeier appear in a scene from ‘The Magnificent Seven.’

Do you remember that scene toward the end of “Django: Unchained” where Jamie Foxx is hanged by his feet and Walton Goggins nearly cuts off Foxx’s testicles with a massive, red hot knife? That scene kind of reminds me of Antoine Fuqua’s “The Magnificent Seven” remake. I say “kind of” because “The Magnificent Seven” reminds me of that scene if, and only if, Goggins was successful.

Much like Foxx in that imagined scenario, “The Magnificent Seven” is neutered, difficult to watch and sort of just hangs around pointlessly until it expires in a predictable, anti-climactic way. To all of those shrieking man-babies who insisted their rage over the new “Ghostbusters” had nothing to do with the cast and everything to do with the unnecessary remake, where was all of your porcine wailing when this unnecessary remake was announced?

Fuqua apologists – if any – might point out the original “The Magnificent Seven” was in fact a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s superior “The Seven Samurai” and they’re not wrong. “The Seven Samurai” was a better film, but it was also a different kind of movie. It may have served as “The Magnificent Seven’s” creative inspiration, but the John Sturges helmed re-imagining was solid enough to stand on its own two feet to become a minor classic. Fuqua’s “Magnificent Seven,” on the other hand, will be remembered as a minor footnote.

As “The Magnificent Seven” opens, we’re introduced to Peter Sarsgaard as Bartholomew Bogue, a cruel robber baron who speaks in indecipherable platitudes about how capitalism and God are intertwined in America and it’s good and it’s bad and it’s making a point? I guess? Basically Sarsgaard’s odd, rambling dialogue sounds like it was punched up by a friend of a friend who smells like a Denny’s gave birth to a bong water-drenched poncho and posts a Martin Niemoller meme on Facebook every time he gets thrown out of CVS for not wearing shoes.

At any rate, Bogue and his private army massacre most of the citizens of a small mining town including the husband of homesteader Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). With vengeance on her mind, Emma enlists the aid of a bounty hunter, Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who in turn, enlists the aid of six additional rogues and ne’er-do-wells. There’s a guy (Chris Pratt) who’s really good at card tricks, a man (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) whose personality is defined by the fact he’s Mexican, a man (Vincent D’Onofrio) with a beard who perpetually sounds like he’s talking through a yawn, a man (Martin Sensmeier) whose personality is defined by the fact he’s a Native American, a man (Byung-hun Lee) whose personality isn’t defined by the fact he’s Asian but by the fact he really likes knives and Ethan Hawke. The motivations behind these characters are murky and ill-defined, they join forces to murder several horses (and some men) in the confusingly edited third act.

“The Magnificent Seven” takes place in some bizarre version of the Old West. From the looks of this movie, people seemed to have evolved from sweat, blood and mounds of matted dog hair, but still have the kind of dazzling smiles that imply Crest Whitening Strips have always been with us. Almost as inexplicable as the sea of capped teeth that engulfs this movie are the uncharacteristically progressive attitudes of its characters. This movie isn’t just progressive for its 1800s setting, it’s progressive for 2016. I shouldn’t be watching a man in a cowboy hat with an infected eye socket and think to myself “I hope that will be America one day” just because he managed to keep all of his bullets to himself when an unfamiliar black guy wandered into his town.

Admittedly these are petty, pedantic gripes. The main issue with “The Magnificent Seven” is that it’s generic, poorly paced and wallows in the same clichés that “Blazing Saddles” mocked 40-some years ago. “Magnificent Seven” isn’t a film to be watched it’s a distraction you mostly ignore while visiting an elderly relative at a nursing home.

In this image, Byung-hun Lee, from left, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio and Martin Sensmeier appear in a scene from ‘The Magnificent Seven.’
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/web1_AP16258092106343-1.jpgIn this image, Byung-hun Lee, from left, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio and Martin Sensmeier appear in a scene from ‘The Magnificent Seven.’

By Mike Sullivan | For Weekender

‘The Magnificent Seven’

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Hayley Bennett, Denzel Washington, Vincent D’Onofrio

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Rated: PG13

Weekender Rating: WV

Length: 133 minutes

Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.

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Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.

‘The Magnificent Seven’

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Hayley Bennett, Denzel Washington, Vincent D’Onofrio

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Rated: PG13

Weekender Rating: WV

Length: 133 minutes