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Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.

Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Western
Length:
2 hr. 12 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
September 23, 2016 (wide—3,600+ theaters)
DVD: December 20, 2016
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

criminals who prey on the weak and defenseless

defending the weak and impoverished from injustice

courage / bravery / self-sacrifice

Featuring: Denzel WashingtonSam Chisolm, a bounty hunter
Chris PrattJosh Farraday, a gambler
Ethan HawkeGoodnight Robicheaux, a sharpshooter
Vincent D'Onofrio … Jack Horne, a tracker
Byung-hun Lee … Billy Rocks, an assassin
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo … Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw
Martin Sensmeier … Red Harvest, a Comanche warrior
Haley Bennett … Emma Cullen, a young woman who hires the Seven
Peter SarsgaardBartholomew Bogue, a corrupt industrialist
Luke Grimes … Teddy Q
Matt Bomer … Matthew Cullen, Emma’s husband
Jonathan Joss … Denali
Cam GigandetMcCann
more »
Director: Antoine Fuqua—“Training Day” (2001), “Shooter” (2007), “The Equalizer” (2014)
Producer: Bruce Berman … Executive Producer
Roger Birnbaum … Producer
Todd Black … Producer
more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Other films with this title: “The Magnificent Seven” (1960)
The Magnificent Seven” (1998)

“The Magnificent Seven” is one of the best films of 2016. The title is well-earned by its smoldering cast, and director Antoine Fuqua has pulled off several feats with this film. First, he has redeemed himself from recent movies like “Olympus Has Fallen” and “Southpaw.” Second, he has masterfully brought the western genre back to the big screen, leaving last year’s “The Hateful Eight” in the dust. Thirdly, he made a remake that didn’t stink—no, it didn’t do everything better than the original, but it holds up worthily. And fourthly, this is probably his best film.

Many will see this film for Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke. But the not-so-famous actors give just as magnificent performances as these three. Vincent D'Onofrio, who most viewers will know from “Jurassic World,” plays a very emotional backwoodsman who has endured a lot throughout his years. This character is a devout Christian who is constantly heard praying and quoting Scripture, even in the midst of battle scenes.

Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier are excellent representatives of their diverse characters as Chinese, Mexican, and Native American. Matt Bomer also has a brief, but memorable, appearance at the beginning.

But Haley Bennett steals every scene she is in, playing a grieving but strong woman whose husband was murdered. This is what causes her to hire the seven men to defend the town from a gang trying to take over it.

While the plot is quite simple, there is strong character development and contemplative discussions about how all the warriors feel about what they’re doing. These things don’t drag the film out unnecessarily, and the well-paced action flares up the screen in satisfactory time.

My recommendation of this film does not come without caution. This is essentially a war movie. Sure, the war is fictional, it’s confined to a single town, and it only lasts one battle. But it’s a war nonetheless—an army against an army. The violence stays within its PG-13 boundaries, but on the heavy side. Almost every weapon of the period is used, from tiny Chinese darts to dynamite. There is very little blood, but that is made up for by a high body count.

There are also several utterances of the usual language you’d expect from a period-accurate western. D**n and s**t are probably used about five to ten times, and there are some misuses of God’s name, as well—although sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’re actually misusing it or crying out.

The sexual content is all implied, and there is very little even of that. A few innuendos are made, and we see a few women that are apparently prostitutes (sadly part of the time period), but there is no explicit content or excessive immodesty. We also get a glimpse of a woman’s cleavage as she bends over her husband, who has just been shot.

Not all the protagonists are angelic heroes. Some of the recruits join for self-serving reasons, and a few are initially murderous outlaws. Chris Pratt’s character is a sort of cowboy version of Han Solo—part womanizing, drinking gambler, and part heart of gold who wants to help people. However, the more these men work with the Godly heroes, the more they consider their own lives that they are about to risk for a righteous cause.

There are several poignant scenes that take place in a church, such as when the seven men are encouraged to get right with God before going to battle. ***SPOILER*** At the end, when the bounty hunter catches the ringleader, he takes him to the church and tells him to pray before his execution. ***END SPOILER*** There are a few references to revenge, but the violent battle at the end is a necessary means to protect the innocent town.

I also appreciated the film’s realistic approach to war. This isn’t one of those films where all the good guys survive because the bad guys can’t shoot straight. No, good guys and well as bad guys die here.

This film definitely lived up to the rip-roaring, rollicking fun I expected, but was also more thought-provoking than I expected. And though there is some objectionable content here and there, I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of Christian faith displayed. In my opinion, “The Magnificent Seven” is a magnificent movie!

Violence: Very heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—A fun shoot-em-up Western without a whole lot of baggage. Kind of slow in parts for character development, but, overall, a well-paced and realistically set story. Considering the plot, there is, of course, a great deal of death by shooting, arrows, knives, etc., along with the resultant blood, but is more on par with a Marvel offering in that sense, just set in the old West. The characters are interesting and well portrayed by a stellar cast. There is a scattering of profanity of the (sadly) everyday sort, but it does not stray into f-bomb territory. While there is a key female character, there is no love story or sexuality involved. The action, while fast-paced and entertaining, is definitely escapist fare, being as unrealistic as the sets and costuming are spot-on for the time and place. But that’s OK; it is a movie, after all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andy, age 46 (USA)
Positive—This movie was a pleasant surprise when it is often hard to find a movie that is not highly offensive as a Christian. This is a very clean western. It is an enjoyable remake, and Christian faith and Christian principles are exhibited throughout. For example how the seven band together for a worthy cause to protect the townspeople who are being bullied and oppressed (resist evil). As with any western there is violence. For those offended by violence I would suggest caution. However, watching a western it is expected and not a surprise. Also, the violence is not gratuitous and multiple characters exhibit concern and restraint in how and when they use violence.

This movie was fun to watch, and a nice escape for a few hours. Particularly refreshing not to be inundated with anti-Christian themes, and to be able to just enjoy the movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John, age 42 (USA)
Negative
Negative—So… I use Christian Answers to pre-screen movies and I typically agree with reviews… Sometimes I would rate a movie less offensive than the reviewer. In this case, I felt it necessary to write my own review, as I was disappointed in choosing this movie for a family movie night after reading the review and commentary here. The commenter who compared the violence to “on par with Marvel” was way off, in my opinion. Marvel is fantasy and relatively restrained. This violence was realistic and brutal, even excessive, as the “heroes” dealt with there adversaries.

There were redeeming qualities: fighting for a righteous cause and self sacrifice. These are characteristics that should be emulated in a Christian’s life. And there was a line that was a keeper for me, in essence “Don’t let fighting battles of the past keep you from fighting the battle in front of you “Here is where I feel misled: The language was offensive… GD is offensive to me… and it was said multiple (guessing around 10) times… I like when there is a offensive word count in the review so I can make a determination what I want to let myself hear.

There was more sexual content than I expected… The heroine has a low cut top at church in the opening scene and some camera angles play on this. I really doubt this represents a late 1800’s Christian female. There are several “saloon girl” prostitutes in many scenes. Not graphic, but if we are honest, not really good clean Christian fun either. I will use a real life example, there are some people at my Church that I would never take a movie recommendation from, because I know our standards and tastes are not the same… taste is one thing, but standards are not worth compromising. So, I will not be recommending this, or broadcasting that I saw it.

Conclusion: All three: Violence, Sex, and Language were more than I expected. Violence with honor is one thing, brutality is another. We have been desensitized to sex if this was average. F-word is less offensive to me than multiple GD and Jesus as a curse word. In all reality, if you compare this movie to the world’s standard, average to above average, is probably accurate. I was offended… so I rated it offensive. As Christian’s our standard has nothing to do with the world’s conventions…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bob, age 51 (USA)
In response to Bob’s comment, he is fully entitled to his own opinions about the language and sexual content (though I didn’t give much less detail than he did). But I find him inconsistent when he suggests that there is a difference between “violence with honor” and “brutality.” First of all, violence and brutality are generally the same thing. The only possible difference is that some people might use the word “brutality” to refer to the kind of violence that is closer to torture, which never happens in this movie. The most brutal scene was the murder at the beginning, which was demonized as it should have been. I do agree that this is more violent than most Marvel films, but I think Andy’s point was that it wasn’t gory.

I said in my review that this is a war movie. Since when do we not expect war to be brutal? The town was surrounded by an entire army. The town had already tried to reason peacefully with the gang, but the gang refused. So the seven had no choice but to do what they did, and they did it in the most honorable way possible under the dire circumstances. I didn’t want to make my review overly long by analyzing the topic of violence, and I don’t want to do that here either. But I will point out that some of the wars that God commanded in the Bible were way, WAY more brutal than anything in this film. And while Christians are no longer bound to all of the forms of punishment the Israelites were, the Bible never implies that self-defense and capital punishment are now less necessary in cases of murder.

Oh, but I would like to apologize for not including an offensive word count. This is something I usually do, but I thought I’d just estimate for this one. I shouldn’t have done that, and won’t do it again. Point taken.
—Gabriel Mohler
Gabriel, Thank you for your reply… I appreciate very much that you care about how your reviews are received. It is becoming more and more difficult to find a movie that is not a compromise of Christian principals, and I value this site and its reviewers greatly. ***minor spoilers may follow*** I agree the Bible is not a G-rated book… In fairness, I did re-read your review, and the only thing I feel was left out was the use of G-D. The violence comment was directed at the commenter “Andy.” What I mean by violence with honor: justified, appropriate, and as humane as possible. Most of the violence of the movie falls into that category. My points of contention: “Josh” shoots two brothers he owes money to, one point blank in the head, the other he shoots his ear off. My opinion: that lacked honor and was brutal.

Second, “Jack” who often quoted scripture, would almost in a detached manner, plunge and twist multiple times with his knife as he was dispensing his adversary. I felt it to be excessive and almost sociopathic. Again, my opinion. Even the main character’s motivation of vengeance, takes him out of the honor category… ***END SPOILER***

Whether or no this gets published, I hope it gets read! I do appreciate what you do and your reply gave you some respect points in my book! It’s okay if we disagree on some points of taste…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Bob, age 51 (USA)
Thank you for your comment as well, sir. I would have to agree about the ear shooting incident. While the killing was technically in self-defense, I can see how the nature of the scene could be unexpected. I felt that the main character was just doing his job and wasn’t motivated by vengeance, but as you said, it’s okay if we disagree on tastes. Comments like yours are important to me, because teach me to be a better reviewer. Whether I agree with all the comments or not, both positive and negative, they give me new perspectives to consider and show me what information viewers want to be more aware of. Thank you for speaking up. Keep pursuing Christ!
—Gabriel Mohler
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I came here to find whether this would be an acceptable movie for our family. I would have suggested we watch it until I read the review that explained there were multiple uses of G-D, something we strongly dislike hearing. That is not something that is up for discussion as “crying out to God”. ??? We will NOT be seeing this movie. And THANK YOU to the critic that bro’t this out.
—Sis, age old
Movie Critics

…[Director] Fuqua is trying for John Ford meets Sergio Leone: a funky classical sweep, with room for delirious shootouts. The trouble is that he mimics the trademarks of those directors without their élan…
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety

…The new movie is as moth-eaten as the serapes strewn through the 1960 film, but there’s no denying the appeal of the image of Denzel Washington riding a horse and shooting a Colt…
—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

…it's OK. It gets the job done. It has some inspired moments. …
—Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times), NPR

…Slick but forgettable, Fuqua’s suicide squad is a macho posse movie that could use a jab of fun. It’s “The Magnificent Seven,” but the “magnificent” is silent. …
—Phil de Semlyen, Empire

…There's a nagging feeling, pardner, you really should have just rented the original “Magnificent Seven” instead. …
—Stephen Whitty, New York Daily News

…Denzel off his game in heavy-handed remake… his gunslingers seem to have taken their cue from “Blazing Saddles”… [2/5]
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)

…Copying an earlier era’s empty slickness still produces only empty slickness. …
—Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V. Club

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