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Magnificent Seven, The


Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cam Gigandet, Matt Bomer

Director: Antoine Fuqua

This western revamp is more Sergio Leone than John Sturges and, though it's a good evening's entertainment, it does raise the age-old question: if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Denzel Washington is the roving marshal collared by tough westerner Emma (Haley Bennett), who has been widowed by mining magnate Bogue (Sarsgaard) and his hired guns, as they bid to take over her small township for further mining.

The whole set-up is less convincing than the original, but Washington duly finds his six guns for hire and sets about training those townsfolk who elect to stay and defend their community. Meanwhile, Bogue assembles an absurdly huge army of gunmen to besiege the town, not knowing that dynamite traps there are the least of his worries. When he looks like losing, he 'cheats', bringing a Gatling gun into the fray.

The gunplay is plentiful and well orchestrated, though this is a bit longer than the 1960 classic and the preamble to the final battle does sometimes drag.

Too many beards and moustaches, too, tend to limit the impact of individual personalities, although Washington is solid and authoritative and Bennett good as the fiery pioneer woman who offers him the town's combined life savings to bring Bogue's bloody reign to the end, and avenge the death of her husband (Matt Bomer, who could have easily done well in the role played by Chris Pratt).

'You want revenge?' asks Washington. 'I seek righteousness,'' she replies. 'But I'll take revenge.' Remember that when it comes to the climactic scene.

This is a pretty PC collection of gunmen but all are fine - if the camaraderie of the original is somewhat lacking - even hoary old D'Onofrio. The weak link is Sarsgaard, fairly bland and lacking snap and flamboyance as the villain.

There's just a hint of Elmer Bernstein's famous old theme music throughout, although it rises triumphantly over the end credits, the only thing in the film that really touches the emotions.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Sony (MGM/Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
132 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Sep 2016