It's called The Magnificent Seven, which marks it as a remake of a remake - the 1960 original Western lifted its plot from the 1954 Akira Kurosawa film Seven Samurai.

But this doesn't follow the John Sturges film, which starred a deeply cool posse of Yul Bryner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn and Eli Wallach.

Instead of guns-for-hire crossing the border to defend a Mexican village, the new film is a story of domestic tumbleweed terrorism.

This time black-man-in-black Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) leads a multi-ethnic team against a nasty rich white guy (Peter Sarsgaard, all evil glint and moustache twirling), who is intent on running the entire frontier town of Rose Creek outta town due to his nearby mining interests.

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Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett and Denzel Washington in the film The Magnificent Seven.
Luke Grimes, Haley Bennett and Denzel Washington in the film The Magnificent Seven.

Duly recruited by the newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, all grim determination and cleavage), the avenging septet arrives, trains the locals and gets ready for a showdown, which borrows a few moves from another classic western, The Wild Bunch, along the way.

It's directed by Antoine Fuqua, who, having delivered a couple of Washington-starring movies that could have been westerns in Training Day and The Equalizer, actually gets his leading man in the saddle.

The result? It's more the mild bunch than magnificent and the lag between getting the band together and getting them into action makes this an overlong movie with a big dull centre.

It does, however, earn its spurs with an entertaining ensemble led by Washington, whose black bounty hunter never gets called out because of his race because clearly he's just way too cool. Other most valuable players include Vincent D'Onofrio, whose performance as the seven's wild mountain man strives for something mythic while Chris Pratt, as usual, supplies the laughs.

It also has a pleasing full-on embrace of things a western must have: tobacco spitting, gun twirling, trick riding, men bursting out of saloon doors, men bursting out of saloon windows, men just bursting.

That said, it's not in the Tarantino league for genre violence, which is refreshing.
And with its rainbow coalition going up against the robber baron, it is trying to say something about the state of America today, even if it's a movie that should do wonders for NRA membership.


Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Haley Bennett, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Director: Anntoine Fuqua
Rating: M (violence)
Running time: 133 mins
Verdict: Decent enough retread of classic Western