5 Line Movie Time: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (PG-13)
THE REEL DEAL Movie Reviews, powered by CinemaDraft
BIASES: 40 year-old black male; erstwhile screenwriter who
favors action, comedy, and glossy, big budget movies over foreign
flicks, kiddie flicks, and weepy Merchant Ivory fare
MOVIE BIASES: Westerns suck. Denzel Washington, who “is the greatest actor of all time period,”™ most certainly does not.
MAJOR PLAYERS: Denzel Washington (The Equalizer), Chris Pratt (Jurassic World), Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise), and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day).
When a late-19th century robber baron (Peter Sarsgaard) holds an entire town hostage to force the sale of its land, the vengeful widow (Haley Bennett) “seeks righteousness” by hiring the fast-shootin’ “warrant officer” (don’t call him a bounty hunter) Sam Chisholm (Washington) to recruit an army to help the town citizens fight back.
As I explained on our podcast this week, I’m generally not a fan of westerns as, historically, they cover a time when it wasn’t super-fun to be black. Save a few winking allusions to the racial realities of the time, Fuqua’s remake of the classic western puts not just a black man but THE Black Man of our time, Denzel Washington, front and center in, well, a super-fun role. Everyone’s having fun and it shows, from Chris Pratt’s genial, relentless assault on superstardom as a perpetually twinkly-eyed gambling alcoholic, to Ethan Hawke’s PTSD-scarred legendary ex-soldier. But the confines of the genre — thinly drawn characters, black and white good vs. evil, and inevitable shootout showdowns (albeit two KILLER showdowns that are the centerpiece of the last half of the movie) — limit my reaction to just a throwaway good time at the movies (particularly in seat-shaking D-Box) instead of a good time that could have resonated deeper considering its charismatic, genre-subverting lead.
It’s pretty hot — go give it a shot.
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