Despite not having watched many of the movies that won some of the awards at 73rd Venice Film Festival (among them, the Golden Lion The Woman Who Left by Lav Diaz or the ex-aequo Silver Lion for directors Paradise and La Región Salvaje), I decided to watch Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven. It is the remake of the homonymous one of 1960, directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen and Horst Buchholz. To present the movie which opened 2016 Toronto Film Festival and closed the 73rd Venice Film Festival, there were Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Antoine Fuqua’s himself.
The plot is quite similar to the 1960 one: a small town is attacked by a vicious and greed criminal who slaughters men, women and children. For this reas
on, a desperate inhabitant hires a bounty hunter to get rid of the danger. The man puts together a team of seven fighters to defend (and train) the people who live there. After a bloody resistance and great losses, the town is saved.
This time to ask for help is Emma, a young widow played by Haley Bennett, but the main difference is the ethnic variety of the squad: Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) gathers together the American Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) to fight alongside the Mexican Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), the Korean Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee) and the native warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). This aspect, which could actually have given another depth to the whole movie, isn’t analysed in all its sides. To the audience are given few details of the personal stories of some of those men (the war traumas of Goodnight and Jack, who is also almost a religious fanatic, Josh’s past as troublemaker, Red Harvest’s exit from his tribe), with the exception of Sam’s family history, explained to justify his wish for revenge on Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). I did not perceive this lack of information as a flaw because I have seen them as different man fighting for a greater cause; maybe forced to joined the team (Vesquez) but, eventually, free to go (and come back – Goodnight). The enemy isn’t anymore a Mexican bandit but a capitalist who wants transform the farmer’s town in a much more productive gold mine, no matter the cost. More than for the other characters, no explanation is given to his behaviour, for which, in this case, could have been useful.
However, this movie is not to reflect but to entertain in the typical way of western films, with their rootless heroes who come to help and to go away again, with the dirty saloons and the typical wooden houses, with the fearless horse-ridings and the violent gunfires.
The fast rhythm, which I missed so much in these last ten days, involves; the script, written by Pizzolatto (True Detective) and Wenk, has the necessary jokes, added in the right moment, and doesn’t forget the classic language of the genre; the cinematography is good, amazing in the scenes of horse ridings in (Louisiana) beautiful landscapes and the actors are able to express the differences among the characters before getting rid of them for the main cause.
It isn’t the movie of the year but it is really enjoyable. Honestly, watching it after too many movies too much presumptuous made me like it even more. Go and watch it!