The Magnificent Seven is Fun to Watch

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.

The Magnificent 7. Photo supplied by: Ster Kinekor

The Magnificent 7. Photo supplied by: Ster Kinekor

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.

 

Denzel Washington impresses again, this time in The Equalizer

A review by Brenda Daniels

I was drawn to this film because of its star actor, Denzel Washington. An excellent performer, Washington has brought depth to many roles in which I have previously seen him, from The Hurricane to the more recent Flight. In The Equalizer Washington does not disappoint, although the movie itself is a little too violent for my taste.

In The Equalizer Washington plays Robert McCall, a mild-mannered man who lives alone and works in a hardware store. He enjoys helping people, offering them syrupy motivations to be “whoever they want to be”. But there’s more to McCall than meets the eyes.

He times himself with military precision while getting dressed in the morning and spends sleepless nights at a diner reading classic books. Here he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a Russian prostitute. McCall’s relationship with Teri seems much like the encouraging ones he has with others.

But his helpfulness takes a turn for the sinister when Teri is severely beaten by her Russian pimps. In a scene reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows in which we see Holmes’s thought process before launching into a calculated attack on his enemies, McCall takes vengeance on Teri’s assailants with, well, military precision. It is at this point that we realise that McCall is not the mild-mannered hardware store worker he appears to be.

He is a former CIA agent who, inspired by Teri, springs to the defense of the defenseless, exacting a kind of righteous revenge on their behalf.

If it wasn’t for Washington’s complex and sympathetic treatment of McCall’s character, The Equalizer might be just another violent revenge offering. It isn’t. As a viewer I found myself siding with the intelligent, just efficient and empathetic McCall. And wholeheartedly against the Russian antagonists (although the latter was easy to do because of overdone stereotyping).

Close-ups of McCall’s killings are tough to watch, but the story is gripping, the action moves at a good pace, and the ending brings a satisfying conclusion to the plot.

The Equalizer opens at Ster-Kinekor, Nu Metro, Movies@ and CineCentre theatres, countrywide in South Africa, including IMAX, on Friday 26 September.

The Equalizer, a violent film starring Denzel Washington as  a former CIA agent who takes up defense of the defenseless. Photo: Supplied.

The Equalizer, a violent film starring Denzel Washington as a former CIA agent who takes up defense of the defenseless. Photo: Supplied.