“The Magnificent Seven” is a modern day Western which teeters on the edge of the line between paying homage and rehashing tired material, and as such fails to leave a meaningful impression. Whilst Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington give a fair degree of effort in service of saving this film from mediocrity, its unoriginal score and emotionally empty narrative make it difficult to enjoy. There are positive moments, and at certain points the comedy within the script finds its mark, but the main feeling you will leave the cinema with after watching this movie’s final act is one of boredom.
“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of a 1960 film of the same name, and as such it ends up feeling like it belongs to another era. In terms of score and storytelling it’s incredibly dull and derivative; completely absent of surprise, intrigue, and perhaps most importantly excitement. Whilst it would be unfair to say that it’s an awful movie, I think it’s only right to state that I will never watch it again. It’s the perfect example of a film that’s not bad but also isn’t worth your time; the filmmaking embodiment of the word meh.
Nevertheless, there are features of “The Magnificent Seven” that work quite well, including the performances and the comedy within the script. As previously mentioned, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt do well to come out of this film unscathed, and they make the most out of the average material that they’re given. Pratt basically plays a version of himself, or rather a version of his on-screen persona (as established in previous films like “Jurassic World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”), but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His mannerisms and delivery don’t really feel as though they belong to the time period that the film is set in, and his character is underdeveloped and thus inconsistent, but he’s still an endearing, likeable protagonist.
However, other performances fall flat, particularly those of Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, who were both incredibly annoying whenever they were on screen. Whether or not the actors are to blame for this is another debate entirely, as it would be reasonable to suggest that they were hampered by the material they were given, but for me their performances verged on nonsensical and took me out of the experience of watching the film. This was partly intentional, as both men played characters that were intended to be quirky, but their performances coupled with the writing put them on the wrong side of laughable.
Overall, I feel that “The Magnificent Seven” crippled itself by focusing on comedy when this was directly in conflict with a narrative which at its core was about violence and revenge, and as a result watching it felt like a chore. I could go on listing its faults in excruciating detail, but I feel that to do so would be superfluous given that my position is so abundantly clear. The writing was poor, the performances were inconsistent, and the whole thing felt uninspired. It isn’t the worst film ever made – in all fairness it isn’t even close to being the worst film I’ve seen this year – but there was very little to like about it.