Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven

Sydney Booth’s opinion of the new movie The Magnificent Seven

By Sydney Booth

mag7This rare, star-powered western has a little bit of everything for everyone. It has a positive message of sacrifice, and even though there are points where the film could have been better, it is the newest must-see western from Antoine Fuqua.

Greedy gold miner Bartholomew Bouge (Peter Sarsgaard) begins to terrorize the small mining town of Rose Creek, burning down the only church and taking the lives of some undeserving townspeople. Among the dead is the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), who vows to avenge her husband by recruiting an army of her own to face Bogue’s army. The first mercenary she hires is humble bounty hunter Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), who recruits Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-hun), Jack Home (Vincent D’Onofrio), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).

This truly was a star-studded cast, but Peter Sarsgaard in particular displayed acting that really made the audience wary of his character. Sarsgaard’s acting allowed his character to embody a true villain, complete with an icy stare and patronizing tone to individuals his character wanted to control. Like most villains, his love of money was prominent, but something about the coldness in his voice made it even more believable than usual.     

The addition of Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) to the group was the most unrealistic one to this gunslinging crew. After trespassing on an Indian burial ground, those whom Chisolm has assembled so far are randomly confronted by a brave with face paint and a bow and arrow. It is never clear why Red Harvest decided to join the gang; he only said his “path was different from everyone else’s”. Although he was one of the most useful of the seven with his bow and arrow, the fact that he was part of the seven in the first place seems impractical.

Although it’s no secret that sexism was a common theme in the history of America’s old west, it was present in this film in unexpected ways. Cullen was the one who originally recruited Chisolm, and she was very involved in her town’s welfare and avenging her husband in the beginning of the movie. It came as a sort of shock that she was not incorporated into the magnificent seven when she seemed to get a ton of screen time and her character started to really develop. Somehow, though, she faded into the background, occasionally appearing to shoot a rifle. Her character seemed to be portrayed as sort of weak, and she was seen crying and pleading several times. She saved the life of Chisolm and proved herself useful in the many firefights, but her character was, disappointingly, put on the backburner.

This skilled team of western “Avengers” may not have the best morals, but they came together to save the tiny town of Rose Creek when the townspeople needed them. One thing the movie did a good job of is not making these gunslingers out to be perfect; they were simply portrayed as talented individuals who came together to complete a moral task. Another realistic element was added– the death of some of the heroes in their line of duty. The magnificent seven were up against an army of Bogue’s best guns with unprepared townspeople attempting to fight by their sides… death was inevitable, and the film stayed rooted in realism.

The Magnificent Seven has received a rating of 63% on Rotten Tomatoes, a 7.1/10 on IMdb, and a 54% on Metacritic, mostly on the basis that the movie lacked depth and true elements of a western movie. However, the movie, at times, reeked of western culture: guns, saloons, whiskey, small towns, gold mines, and men on horseback riding into the sunset after a job well done. Although, at times, the movie did grasp a little too far to fit into a western setting, it most definitely fit nicely into the western genre with unique elements of its own. The movie did not lack depth, simply on the basis that seven men took time out of their lives to risk their lives for a small town, some dying honorable deaths to fight for the weaker man. The seven were never portrayed as good people individually, but as a team, they were able to make a difference.