The Magnificent Seven: Why critics don't like the film

The remake of 'The Magnificent Seven,' which stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke, has gotten poor reviews so far. The film is now in theaters.

Sam Emerson/Sony Pictures/AP
'The Magnificent Seven' stars Denzel Washington (l.) and Chris Pratt (r.).

The characters of “The Magnificent Seven” haven’t been able to win over critics, as reviewers have criticized the familiarity of the movie and its attempts to appeal to everyone ahead of the film’s Sept. 23 release, although some critics were impressed with the performances of stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. 

“Magnificent,” which stars Mr. Washington, Mr. Pratt, and Ethan Hawke, and is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name (which was inspired by the 1954 film “Seven Samurai”), tells the story of a group of men who are asked to help those in the town of Rose Creek, an area being threatened by businessman Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).

The movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua of “Training Day” and “Southpaw.” 

The film has been poorly received by reviewers. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, however, was more impressed than some others, writing that the film “isn't aiming for cinema immortality” but that Washington “has a wicked blast in the role … especially when mixing it up with Pratt.” 

Some observers had hoped that the cast's diversity was aiming for a social message, as well – an expectation fed, in part, by Mr. Fuqua, who last week told the Guardian that lack of diversity in Hollywood is "a problem."

"We did something about it," the director told film critic Ryan Gilbey. "And here’s the beauty part: MGM and Sony backed it. No one said: 'A black man? A Native American?'"

But for some reviewers, the social side of "Magnificent" doesn't deliver. Mr. Travers notes that “it's disappointing that the color-blind casting is more surface gimmick than emotional depth charge, and that there is no attempt to ground the story in historical fact. But the actors give it their all. And it's a kick to see diversity out there riding into a new kind of future.” 

But Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune called the film “hollow” and wrote that it suffers by trying to appeal to too many viewers. “This movie’s all over the place, trying too hard to be all Westerns to all sensibilities,” he writes. 

And Owen Gleiberman of Variety writes that the idea of the movie has been redone in too many films by now. “Action heroes in big-group form are legion,” he writes, referencing superhero movie team-ups and heist movie groups.

Mr. Gleiberman was also impressed with Washington and Pratt, writing, “If Washington is the film’s sly center of gravity, Chris Pratt … has its most combustible star quality.” Still, writes Gleiberman, “the plot that was once catchy is now rote.”

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