The Magnificent Seven ★★★★

It's not as good as "Seven Samurai" (well, duh) but it's a solid, highly entertaining Western that honors the traditions of the genre while giving them a decidedly modern shot of adrenaline. This "Magnificent Seven" can't seem to decide whether it wants to be fun or go dark, so it splits the difference by doling out hard-hitting carnage (you can see the limits of PG-13 stretching before your very eyes) and including lots of Chris Pratt's trademark wisecracks. The characters are thin, mere sketches really, the villain is almost complete caricature (Sargaard's mustache needs to be a bit thicker and longer so that he can properly twirl it) and the action sequences are thoroughly over the top.

Here's the thing though: this isn't a real movie. It's an entertainment machine. As such, "The Magnificent Seven" succeeds admirably. It's rip-roaring, badass fun from beginning to end. The characters are thin, but they are colorful. Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio are having a ball, and their glee is infectious. Byung Hun-Lee isn't as awesome as in "The Good, the Bad and the Weird", but it's fun to see him toss knives and be a straight up hero. I liked the ethnic diversity of the cast. Between this and the new "Star Wars" movies, it's genuinely refreshing to see colors other than white represented in modern blockbusters. I feel like maybe the industry is turning a corner. Chris Pratt does his trademark wisecracking, but he's so damned good at it that I didn't mind. Denzel Washington glowers and is a badass, which is never a bad thing. He could probably do this in his sleep, but that's more a testament to Washington than an insult to the script. And Haley Bennett makes an impression as the woman who hires the Seven. She gets to kick some ass as well, which I quite enjoyed. I was a bit disappointed that they took this iconic story of seven badasses nobly defending peasants who fear them and turned it somewhat into the typical revenge narrative, but the story still works. James Horner's score (I think this is his last) is kind of warmed over Horner, dusting off themes he's been putting to use since at least "Willow" and trotting them out for a victory lap. But even warmed-over Horner makes for a rousing score.

I guess what I'm saying is that there's nothing really new about this "Magnificent Seven", but it's still entertaining as hell. It's solidly constructed and has a real flair to it, and the action sequences are stirring and tense. It's perfect popcorn entertainment, well executed, and that's always welcome in my house.

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