Revenge and seeking out justice is an incredibly bloody business—as Antoine Fuqua’s take on The Magnificent Seven will remind you. The Magnificent Seven was originally a 1960 classic American Western film, which in turn was based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
Not only was the film iconic, the main theme by Elmer Bernstein has remained a classic as well and has been used as a theme song for Marlboro commercials long ago (I’m just unable to recall which years—I’m guessing the mid ‘70s?)
I realize, also in many ways, that this is the plot used for many Filipino action movies in the past (which I see get aired in the afternoons): evil dons and their henchmen terrorize a poor village or farming community until the likes of Fernando Poe show up to rally the cries of the oppressed.
Admittedly the 2016 version may not have the charm of the 1960 Western despite having been loaded with action and a few comedic moments. The biggest and most obvious difference, however is the diversity of the group of seven in its 2016 version. You have Denzel Washington as the leader Chisolm and then you have Korean actor Byung-hun Lee as Billy Rocks, Mexican actor Manuel Garcia Rulfo as Vasquez and Martin Sensmeier (who is part Native American) as Red Harvest. Then you have the Caucasians: Chris Pratt (Josh Faraday), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux) and Vincent D’ Onofrio (Jack Horne).
While the crew does get racially diverse, one has to think, “When do the women get to represent?” I suppose since this is a Western, they don’t. The 28-year-old Haley Bennet (who worked with Fuqua and Washington in The Equalizer) does get to fire a gun but the rest of the women here are just panicked ladies or bordello workers. So while they updated the movie in terms of skin color, they didn’t do so much in terms of gender.
For the most part, The Magnificent Seven seems a bit a like a belated summer blockbuster. Part of me keeps thinking, we could very well be living in the Wild West these days though you would hope those having our best interests were as heroic and slick—and in some cases as good-looking—as some these lads.