Take heart. Life today is a picnic compared with that of the 1850s Wild West. Conditions then were much harder than they are in any modern, crime-ridden country today. The Wild West was a dusty, lawless place where people were killed daily by guns. “Protected” by ineffectual sheriffs, townspeople in those parts were forced to take the law into their own hands to protect themselves. Only after many bodies and an impressive supply of ammunition did the goodies stagger to a triumph.
The Magnificent Seven (a 2016 remake of the 1960 original of the same name) follows this typical Western formula. Right down to the stirring background music, saloon scenes and main-street duels, this modern movie delivers plenty reminders of Westerns of long ago. The triumph of good over evil, high jinks, humour, and avenging the death of loved ones makes the viewer forgive the film’s violence and unbelievability.
Chisolm (Denzel Washington), the main goody avenger, is hired by widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) – the only woman in Rose Creek with balls – to chase out the bandits who have taken over their mining rich town. Chisolm, with great street smarts, gathers himself six other men, promising them payment to help him in the defence of Rose Creek. The bunch is an unlikely “magnificent”. Billy Rocks (Vincent D’Onofrio) is a bear-like man with a high-pitched voice and a penchant for praying over his victims. The rest are made up of a red Indian, a Mexican, a gambler, an Eastern knife fighter (who kills victims with anything sharp, including a hair pin) and a war veteran struggling with PTSD. But they’re all fantastic with weapons.
Denzel Washington is characteristically stylish, and the action, which includes dynamite explosions and great horsemanship is exciting and fun to watch. There is no swearing or sex in The Magnificent Seven. Just lots of good-old sharp shooting. Lovely family viewing (if you’re over 16).
The Magnificent Seven opens at Ster Kinekor theatres countrywide in South Africa on 23 September 2016.