This 2016 iteration on Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai (drawing plenty more from the 1960 adaptation of the same name) was a fairly enjoyable western, with two stand-out battle sequences, and middling connective tissue between them.
The two battle sequences, a shoot-out in the middle of the film and a large-scale battle at the end, are legitimately enjoyable and impressive. Director Antoine Fuqua did a great job with them. He did a good job overall; few of my issues with the film come down to the and Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, and Haley Bennett give notably good performances. It’s the script where most of the issues lay.
There are so many scenes where the laziest attempt at building character is put forward. I’d have no problem with the films many lulls in between action sequences if they were actually put to something interesting, rather than the dull by-the-numbers dialogue we got. I was really disappointed that the film set up so many interesting racial issues with the casting – Hawke plays a Confederate soldier who is best friends with an Asian man, Washington plays the leader figure as part of an ostracised race (an interesting change from Seven Samurai and the original The Magnificent Seven), the titular seven are an interestingly diverse crew that you’d expect more reaction to – but it does absolutely nothing with them. A real shame, as apart from that element, the only new things the film has to offer are “new actors doing old story”. The battle scenes are excellent, but not revolutionary, and not really a great justification for remaking this story yet again.
The cast and battles are good enough that I would recommend the film to anyone who likes westerns or the cast, but the film never really offers up a substantial justification for its own existence. I give it three revolvers, and a tomahawk.