Review: Chris Pratt Was Born to Play a Cowboy, But 'The Magnificent Seven' Is More Guns Than Glory
By John Boone
Photo: Columbia Pictures
It takes all of five seconds onscreen to realize Chris Pratt was born to play a cowboy.
We meet Pratt's Old West alter ego, Josh Faraday, fairly early on in The Magnificent Seven. Naturally, he's at a saloon. Also naturally, he's up to no good. He's dirty and sweaty in that Western way that's still sexy on someone with Pratt's natural pulchritude. Soon enough, a slick bounty hunter, Chisolm (Denzel Washington, leaving no piece of scenery unchewed), meanders in and shoots the barkeep point-blank in the face. Pratt's Faraday cracks wise, "Dan, you dead? Pity, I just ordered a drink from him."
He's a cowpoke who loves his whiskey and his women, his horse and his guns. ("I didn't want to kill him. He shouldn't have touched my guns," Faraday quips after, well, killing a man who touched his guns.) If someone asked you to come up with the perfect role for Chris Pratt, you would tell that person to stop wasting your time. It's been done. This is it.
The Magnificent Seven -- this latest take, which is a remake of the 1960 Western of the same name, which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic, Seven Samurai -- is set in 1879, when evil tycoon Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard, doing a less manic take on Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained, he's only missing a mustache to twirl) threatens to take over a town called Rose Creek, before lighting the church on fire and massacring a few townspeople. Chisolm is recruited to protect the town and he subsequently recruits his own ragtag band of six to help him fight. Outmanned, outgunned, outnumbered...will they prevail? (And is that the Survivor catchphrase?)
Unflattering as the comparison may be, there are more than a few similarities between The Magnificent Seven and this summer's much-malignedSuicide Squad. Both movies center on a group of troublemakers teaming up to do some good. Both feature performances that are insane. (If they had gone method for this, it would have been a total nightmare.) (Ethan Hawke hisses during a gunfight.) Both movies aim for diversity but end up muddled somewhere in the middle. The formerly all-white "Seven" now includes a Mexican outlaw, a South Korean assassin and a Native American named Red Harvest, but we can probably just stop including period-appropriate racism in popcorn action flicks, right?
Which is worse than it sounds: Magnificent Seven is a well constructed, more than infrequently fun ride. Ultimately, how you feel about it will depend on your tolerance for guns these days, because as directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), that's essentially what this is: two-plus hours of "boys will be boys," punctuated by guns shooting and guns twirling and guns blazing. Gunsgunsguns. It's certainly a violent movie, albeit not particularly bloody one.
Here's a telling takeaway: despite the human body count, which is...uncountable and the dozens upon dozens of bullets whizzing through the air at any given second, not one single horse is ever in put in danger, let alone shot. At this point, would that be harder to watch than a person getting killed? 2016! When you don't need to watch a Western, because you're living one!