A bandit terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with 7, each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to repulse an army of 40 bandits who will arrive wanting food. An Americanization of the film, Seven Samurai (1954) Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
A relic of a bygone era, and a good one at that...
Based somewhat faithfully on the Akira Kurosawa classic Shichinin no samurai, The Magnificent Seven could be mistaken for just another of the many Westerns that were turned out in Hollywood during this era. But there is a certain something that keeps The Magnificent Seven unique. Part of it is the concept borrowed from the earlier Japanese film, but some of it lies in the attitude of the seven mercenaries referred to in the title.
Much is made here of the difference between fighting for money, fighting for justice, or fighting for a future. While this version of Kurosawa's epic contains all the philosophical leanings of the original, it isn't nearly as long-winded or languid. The downside to this is that it isn't nearly as moody or powerful. In fact, one can easily see the difference between American and foreign cinema simply by comparing Shichinin no samurai with The Magnificent Seven. One is incredibly dark and downbeat most of the time. The other mostly has a score that is so major it wouldn't sound out of place in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.
Differences in feeling aside, the ultimate question is whether this version of the story manages to entertain. The hardest challenge any film faces is keeping the audience amused while all the exposition is laid out. Here, the exposition is kept to a minimum while carefully inserted between some fast-paced, albeit very mild action sequences.
Sometimes, the dialogue ("We deal in lead, friend.") gets incredibly stilted. Sometimes, it seems incredibly wise. Well, since we have examples of films where it's all stilted, all the time, we can forgive this one. The film also includes several textbook examples of how to include a sudden plot element without seeming contrived. When we learn why Calvera's men just won't go away, it needs no setup simply because it is consistent with their behaviour throughout the rest of the film.
In the end, The Magnificent Seven comes off as an excellent remake of a masterpiece. There are better Westerns out there, and there are better action films, but there aren't many. I gave it a nine out of ten. Go in expecting to be entertained, but little more, and you cannot go wrong.
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