Fun but flawed, “The Magnificent Seven” is a Western made for the modern blockbuster audience.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”, “Southpaw”), the film follows bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and his ragtag crew as they help a town fight back against the villainous Bogue (Peter Saarsgard).
Plot-wise, the film starts off slow as it introduces each character before moving into set-up for the final act, which is where the movie embraces its roots and delivers non-stop action.
While “Seven” has a few laughs and bits of action as it builds to the end, the lack of significant events causes the film to drag overall. There is also a noticeable shift in tone as the film goes between lighthearted and serious, making it seem as if “Seven” doesn’t really know which it wants to be.
Another issue is the predictability of the plot itself. “Seven” goes through a checklist of cliches, and because audiences already know what will happen, what would be significant moments lose a lot of their impact.
The cast is carried by a strong ensemble led by Washington and co-star Chris Pratt. There’s a solid chemistry between each of the seven, and their banter feels somewhat natural.
Each of the seven characters has a moment to shine or do something interesting, and they each feel like they bring a specific role to the overall group.
The main issue with the characters, however, comes from the lack of backstory and exploration. Only three of the seven have actual growth and history, which makes it hard to be invested in their well-being.
This lack of characterization also extends to the main villain, Bogue, who is completely forgettable. Bogue appears to be one of the evilest men in the West, but he never casts an intimidating presence.
Visually, the film is both authentic and eye-catching. Fuqua plays with colors, shadows and details to create environments that mimic the Westerns “Seven” takes after. The music also adds to the western feel, providing a nice mix of upbeat and heroic songs to match the action onscreen.
It is also worth noting that while rated PG-13, “Seven” really pushes the boundaries in terms of violence with lots of shooting, stabbing and explosions. This plays well with the style of the movie, but may catch some audiences off-guard.
While “Seven” has fun, explosive action and is carried by a good ensemble cast, a lackluster villain and predictable plot keep this film from being truly magnificent.