The Magnificent Seven is of course a remake of John Sturges’s famous 1960 Western, and of course it’s been brought earnestly up to date. Now, instead of the marauding bandito who harried the defenseless villagers in the first film, we have a rapacious gringo (the words “robber baron” are actually uttered) who cites the tenets of capitalism and religion to justify his appropriation of the townsfolk’s land. The Seven themselves are more ethnically diverse, too: there’s an Asian knife fighter named Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a Mexican outlaw named Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Native American arrow-master called Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). There’s even a woman—a feisty widow named Emma (Haley Bennett)—who’s a match for any of the men, bravery-wise, and might have been included among their number had it not been necessary for her to shed tears at one point, and to serve the guys dinner at another.
The story, set in the Old West of 1879, is familiar. Denzel Washington is an itinerant lawman named Chisolm, who is persuaded to come to the aid of some timorous citizens whose homesteads are about to be taken over by that evil robber baron, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), and his gunslinging henchmen. Chisolm knows he’ll need help, so in addition to the above-noted roughnecks he recruits a Confederate war hero improbably named Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a fat Indian-fighter named Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), and a wise-cracking card shark named Faraday (Chris Pratt). Together, they amass a heaping cache of weapons and set about booby-trapping the town in anticipation of Bogue’s arrival, writes Kurt Loder.