This should've been called The Alright Seven, because this film barely gets close to magnificent. In a film that should've been way more fun and better paced, a whole host of brilliant stars get a handful of cool action shots here and there but they're all letdown by a terribly elongated mid-film lull that only lets up once the final showdown erupts.
Director Antoine Fuqua knows how to craft an action sequence, as seen in Olympus Has Fallen, Shooter and his other films, he keeps it clear so viewers can work out who is shooting who and where they are in the geography of the scene, but everything that comes before the pivotal battle is so boring and repetitive I found it hard to become invested in any of the shootouts.
The film gets off to a strong start, with Peter Sarsgaard's despicable villain Bogue coming into town showing he means business by executing several innocents as well as burning down the church. Sarsgaard gives the best performance throughout, he's a bad guy you can hate yet still want to see more of what he's capable of. Hayley Bennett is excellent too as a woman seeking revenge and righteousness, just the look on her face at the start when she knows she has to fight back is enough to render her performance strong already.
I'm getting a bit bored of Chris Pratt, he's good but his schtick is getting tiresome, in this he's playing the same kind of cocky, charming character but he just happens to be in Western times. Of course, the man himself Denzel Washington never disappoints, as with Ethan Hawke and Byung-Hun Lee, though I'm not sure if I liked Vincent D'Onofrio's performance with his seriously pitchy voice. The other actors forming part of the magnificent seven barely register, screen time is plentiful but it barely uses it to flesh out all the key players, and to be honest I found that with all the characters. You've got your training montages, your recruitment sequences, it's all worn out and a change of setting and time period doesn't make things anymore interesting. A film that does the team recruitment scene well, for example, is Gangster Squad, as it does it with such a swift pace and charm, whilst boasting a brilliant recreation of its time period.
Visually the film is strong, the whole western look and feel is obvious and present throughout, aside from really fake looking explosions in the final battle that took me out of the action, mind you, I wasn't really invested wholly anyway. From the minute Washington's Sam Chisolm makes his journey and recruits his team all the way up to the moment before the final battle, the film is a bore. Nothing exciting or compelling happens, I felt the dynamic between the seven is almost non-existing, all they do is quip, banter here and there and taunt one another.
By the time the big battle breaks out, I'd lost all investment and interest. However, one thing I will admire is the fact that the film kills off nearly all its main characters with no mercy, that's cool to see but it's still not enough for me to enjoy this tired and painfully paced remake of a classic western. Rating: 4/10