Everyone loves to talk about how the western’s dead and buried, but we’ve actually seen a major resurgence in the genre over the past few years. The Salvation, Slow West, The Hateful Eight, The Revenant and, best of all, Bone Tomahawk all offered something new within the well-worn conventions, typically (but not exclusively) using the end of the era to produce a powerful, wistful meditation on changing times.
On the back of all that, The Magnificent Seven looked like a massive comedown. Here was a remake of a smash hit of the genre’s original run with an overbearing focus on action (complete with shoe-horned in machine gun) and a bunch of 21st century banner names picked to appeal to the widest possible audience. The genre had just clawed back its respectability, and now all that was going to be overshadowed by one heavily-marketed Hollywood dud.
In the end, however, the result isn’t that at all. The Magnificent Seven is a fine film, a fun time at the movies that offers enough good to outweigh some rather lumbering negatives. Just weeks after an God-awful Ben-Hur remake, it looks to be positively Kurosawa. Here’s fives Ups and five Downs from The Magnificent Seven.