This remake of a remake tells the time honored tale of a few brave men rising up to defend the weak and oppressed, and again shows us the conflict we’ve seen many times before, in which, the skilled few stand u to the oppressive many.
The Magnificent 7 establishes its setting in perfect fashion, thrusting us into a heated town meeting. Then suddenly, the villain enters, his menacing footsteps thump and creak on the wood floor, disagreement ensues, and suddenly, a shot splits the air. Such a startling sound, that you never really get used to, despite the amount of lead that flies here. The Western atmosphere is perfectly recreated and though it is that much more real, due to improved technology, it feels familiar in a way. Strains, variations, and melodic teases of Elmer Bernstein’s famous score riddle the film and keep the mood adventurous.
The obvious dominant component of the film, its action scenes are epic, and gripping. There are of course plenty of scenes that any western worth its salt is simply required to feature. Several Mexican standoffs, so delightfully stereotypical, as well as quite a few things that are new, or have not been seen for a while. A duel between two Comanches, a fighting force seeking shelter from the mighty Gatling gun, and a cowboy lighting dynamite with a cigarette as he lays dying all come to mind. I could go on for much longer about how ridiculously cool this movie’s action sequences are, but I’ll let you see for yourself.
Finally, the plot, though anything but unfamiliar is a moving and epic tale about unity, loyalty, and grit. One of my favorite scenes in the movie features Jack Horne, the tracker, played by Vincent D’onofrio, (who like the rest of this all star cast is just downright amazing in a role that fits like a glove) shot by an enemy arrow. He falters, but stares at the enemy and rises. He takes a step forward, and is stopped again, a second shaft protruding from his chest. He continues his advance toward the enemy until he can no longer, dying with his dignity intact.
The Magnificent Seven is a film that is so clichéd that it begins to feel original. And That is definitely a compliment. Not that there is anything wrong with modern westerns that try something new, like Django, or No Country For Old Men, but It is certainly a joy to watch a movie that owns these tropes for what they are, tosses some satisfying character development into the mix, and makes something out of it that is, for lack of a better adjective, positively “Magnificent”.