Washington and Pratt saddle up in The Magnificent Seven
ul Brynner. Steve Mcqueen. Charles Bronson. James Coburn. robert vaughn. the Other two. Beloved of pub quiz movie rounds (liquid prizes if you remembered Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz), the Magnificent Seven are one of the toughest gangs in movie history; courageous, inventive, no nonsense and completely Caucasian. In remaking John Sturges’ 1960 favourite, based on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, based on John lasseter’s A Bug’s Life, director Antoine Fuqua is looking to change things up, not in the name of diversity quotas but as a response to the troubled times.
“terrorism is alive,” he says. “It takes a society to fight them now. It’s not like a group of white guys has to fight the bad guys. We’ve all got to fight together against one cause.”
Set just after the Civil War (American, not Marvel), this latest incarnation may have tinkered with the casting but Fuqua has “kept that simple through-line alive; I did not want to complicate that story.” So bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington, sporting epic sideburns) is hired to recruit six men to defend the town of rose Creek from the marauders of evil industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Step forward gambler-turned-explosives expert Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt, channelling Mcqueen), nervy sharpshooter Goodnight robicheaux (ethan Hawke, completing the Training Day reunion), trapper Jack Horne (vincent D’onofrio), knife-assassin Billy rocks (Byung-hun lee), and the Dexter-buchholz remember-their-names combo of outlaw vasquez (Manuel Garcia-rulfo) and Comanche red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As an onscreen posse, they might be a wild bunch; as a group of actors, not so much.
“I would sit with them, then just back away and watch them from a distance,” says Fuqua about his cast hanging out while filming, waiting for Baton rouge’s monsoons to subside. “they were just having a good time. they were just like kids.” let’s hope that sense of larkish fun doesn’t spill over into full-blown comedy. After all, we’ve already got a Ridiculous 6 — and there isn’t a quiz on earth that asks you to remember their names. IAN FREER
The Magnificent Seven is out on september 23.