The Magnificent Seven review: behold, the progressive Western

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Plot: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio. Premiering at TIFF 2016 before its Sept. 23 general release. 133 minutes.

themagnificentseven

Antoine Fuqua’s take on the familiar story of a band of mostly good guys defending a frontier town from really bad guys won’t make anyone forget its superior predecessors: John Sturges’The Magnificent Seven (1960), which was based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954).

Fortunately for Fuqua he doesn’t have to do much more than cast wisely and have everybody hit their marks when the shooting starts, which the action director presents with his usual violent flair.

What Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven lacks in originality it makes up for in personality, with hisTraining Day and The Equalizer compadre Denzel Washington earning his oats as an ensemble leader in his first western.

Washington’s taciturn tough guy Sam Chisolm finds himself getting dragged into the affairs of a small town caught in the grip of evil.

Peter Sarsgaard’s convincingly creepy mining mogul Bartholomew Bogue kills anyone who crosses his plans to strip all the farms of hard-luck burgh Rose Creek in his ceaseless quest for gold.

In standard round-’em-up fashion, Chisolm sets out to recruit diverse accomplices to take on Bogue’s vastly larger and more heavily armed gang of thugs. Mucho macho bravado ensues.

True to more enlightened modern movie conventions, Haley Bennett’s avenging townswoman Emma Cullen plays a larger role in the proceedings than female characters in previous films, making this almost The Magnificent Eight.

It all goes down much like you’d expect, with Fuqua commendably preferring practical stunts to CGI-rendered ones and nobody pretending that this is anything terribly new.

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