ELMER BERNSTEIN’S rousing theme for 1960’s The Magnificent Seven doesn’t turn up in the The Magnificent Seven: 2016 Edition until the end credits. But when it finally starts playing, it’s enough to make you want to get up, walk out of theater, and head home to watch the original. And then maybe all four hours of Seven Samurai, the movie that movie was a remake of.
To its credit, this third Magnificent Seven doesn’t try to ape either Kurosawa or the 1960 film. This is an all-out Antoine Fuqua production, with the director doing a solid job transporting his fast-cut action to the old west. If one thing can be said of this Seven in comparison to previous iterations, it’s that this one definitely has the most explosions. It also has the best cast: If there’s a way to make a movie starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, and Byung-hun Lee and not have it be super fun to watch, scientists have yet to discover it. As the black-clad sharpshooter Chisolm, Denzel Washington is at his Denzel Washingtoniest; as booze-swiggin’, wise-crackin’ Faraday, Chris Pratt Chris Pratts it up; as stabbin’ mountain man Jack Horne, D’Onofrio stabs a lot. And when they team up with their buddies to protect a village of inept idiots from robber baron Bogue (Sarsgaard), it’s only a matter of time until... see above, re: explosions.
This Magnificent Seven feels formulaic, but it’s a solid formula. That’s also why it fades so fast: Once that Bernstein theme plays, it’s as if the preceding film just vanishes. This won’t be the version of The Magnificent Seven anyone remembers—they’ll remember the two others. Which I’m gonna go watch. See you in six hours.