Sneak Peek: The Magnificent Seven
Director Antoine Fuqua brings his modern vision to a classic story in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ The Magnificent Seven. With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), the desperate townspeople, led by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns – Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Matt Bomer and Peter Sarsgaard.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk.
Runtime: 132 minutes
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Critic: You know what, listeners? Let me tell ya. Let me tell ya, listeners. Do you know what? The Ref got to see a Sneak Peek —
The Referee: It was sneaky. (laughter)
Critic: — at “The Magnificent Seven.” Now, all of you film buffs know, not the 1960 version. This is the new one.
Ref: The brand new one.
Critic: Brand, spanking new, like a newborn.
Critic: And, this is starring (laughs) Denzel Washington, of course. It also stars Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio! —
Ref: Oh, ho-ho-ho-ho!
Critic: — Peter Sarsgaard and others. I’m not going through all seven, what do I look like? Now, this comes to us from Nic Pizzolatto, who wrote it. And, everyone, he’s the one who created that show on HBO, “True Detective.” Uh-huh!
Critic: And, it’s directed by Antoine Fuqua, who now directs —
Ref: You’re favorite! (laughs)
Critic: Hey, look. (laughs) Now, look, he directs every Denzel Washington movie now. (laughter) I think they just have some secret pact, right?
Ref: Yeah, you know what? They do.
Critic: Now, if you don’t know, now you know: This is certainly a western. It’s gonna give us the shoot ‘em ups; it’s gonna give us the action —
Ref: Am I reviewing?!
Critic: I’m getting to you right now, so right on that — see how the Ref can’t let the Critic say anything?
Ref: No (laughter), ‘cause you get wound up.
Critic: (laughing) So, now, please, please, Ref, tell us about it. I really am excited to hear what your thoughts are.
Ref: I doubt it! But (laughter), listen, OK, so it’s “The Magnificent Seven.” It is the reboot, but not everything is the same. So, first, you open up on the wonderful, wide-open hills of a small town somewhere out West during the late 1800s.
Ref: It is a mining town we later find out, as the mines are going off. Then, you also find out that this town is being ruled with a very heavy hand by Bartholomew Bogue, who is played by Peter Sarsgaard. He is the owner of the mines. He also barges into the church (laughs) —
Critic: (laughing) Of course.
Ref: — and tells the entire town, “Listen. You want to stay here? You’re gonna have to pay me!”
Ref: “And, if you want to leave, you gon’ have to pay me!” So, basically —
Critic: He took the church offering? (laughs)
Ref: (laughing) He took everything. He’s got the town under — they’re hostages, basically. And, quite frankly, the town’s not going to have it. So, you have some people buck up against that, and he takes care of that very violently.
Ref: Yes. One violent act is between Matt Bomer, who plays Matthew Cullen, and his wife, Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett. And it doesn’t end so well for one of them.
Critic: Oh, my goodness!
Ref: Listen, this man, this evil man doesn’t care about killing children, women, men — doesn’t matter: He wants his money; he wants to rule the town. Fast-forward, you see Denzel Washington’s character: Chisolm is a bounty hunter of some sort. He’s certified in multiple states. He is going —
Critic: Certified? (laughs)
Ref: Yes, I’ll tell you, it’s a whole monologue (laughter) speech that he gives. When he goes to the town, he’s like, (with an accent at a rapid pace) “I’m certified in Kansas. I’m certified in …” (laughter) Turns out that he and Chris Pratt’s character, Josh Faraday, are in the same town. And Chris Pratt’s character witnesses Chisolm take care of business. And, so, it sets the tone for the movie. Running through the plot, because it thickens and goes everywhere: Denzel Washington’s character is solicited by various members of the town to come and take care of the business.
Ref: They are under a heavy thumb: “We need an oppression lifter!”
Ref: So, throughout the very beginning, Denzel solicits the help of various people, which, obviously, includes Chris Pratt’s character, Ethan Hawke, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and — I’m probably not going to say his name correctly, but he plays Billy Rocks — Byung-Hun Lee, along with Martin Sensmeier. (lowers her voice) And, he also solicits the help (laughter) of Jack Horne —
Ref: — played by Vincent D’Onofrio. Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho…!
Critic: Hey! Now, we know that ain’t no joke!
Ref: Listen, you don’t even know it’s him. We’ll get back to the performances.
Ref: As they’re solicited, they go into the town and have a scrimmage match against the current gatekeepers there, who are holding the town hostage while the big boss is away. Word gets back to him. They only have a week to train the town. And, then, there’s a big shootout, and it ends, probably the way you know it ends. But, it’s a western.
Ref: That’s the gist of the plot.
Critic: That is exciting, actually. I love —
Ref: It is. It’s very exciting. OK, so, let’s break this down very quickly. First of all, it’s Antoine Fuqua. He likes closeup shots. I just watched “The Negotiator” not too long ago. (laughter) He’s all into the closeup shots. And, so, at the beginning of the movie, you have a lot of closeup shots, which makes the lighting a little wonky. So, you couldn’t quite see the facial expressions that everyone’s giving, ‘cause it’s a western and that means —
Ref: — we’re not gonna have monologues and monologues. We’re going to get to the action. So, it was a little difficult to see exactly what was going on. The rhythm: I know you’re going to be like, “I told you!”
Critic: Go ahead.
Ref: There were some pacing issues; there were some rhythm issues.
Ref: The cinematography was definitely — you know, you’ve got this beautiful land, this sweeping land, and, you know, I believe that DP [Director of Photography] did the best that he could with the direction he was given. But it’s really about the performances.
Critic: Yeah, it has to be.
Ref: It’s really about the performances, here. And that’s what we’re going to get into. First of all, Denzel Washington does his job. There was a lack of energy among the actors at the beginning of the movie. Chris Pratt: He’s the zinger; he’s the one-liner kinda guy. He’s making jokes; he’s the lightness of the movie. It just seemed a little forced. I mean, he’s [a] “Guardians of the Galaxy” kind of guy —
Ref: — in this role. And, it just kind of fell a little short towards the beginning; it picked up and got better towards the end. Denzel’s energy picked up as it got toward the end. You do buy that he is the ringleader of these six wayward, loose-cannon kind of guys. You do believe he has a good heart, and there’s a motivation behind his agreeing to save this town.
Ref: And, it is what it is. You know, it’s kind of hard to believe Denzel sometimes, ‘cause he’s got this Brooklyn (laughs) —
Ref: — this New York accent. And he’s like, (in “New Yawk” accent) “Look!” (laughter) “You’re gonna put your guns down.” You know, it’s like (laughter) — OK, (about her accent) that was really bad; that was really bad. But, listen, I’m not going to go through all of the performances. I’m gonna highlight! Peter Sarsgaard: He’s a great bad guy. He kinda plays the kind of bad guy that’s sort of — (laughs) I feel like, if it were current, he’d be, like, a cocaine addict or something. (laughs)
Ref: ‘Cause, he was always sweating and sort of, like, his eyes were always rolling back. So, he made some definite choices.
Ref: Now, we saw Ethan Hawke in [“In a Valley of Violence”], and I was very much adamant that I didn’t quite buy him. —
Critic: Yes, and just so the listeners know, our review of that will be coming —
Ref: Comin’ up — I buy him [Hawke] here.
Critic: What [did] I say?
Ref: You didn’t say anything. (laughter) I buy him —
Critic: They will hear our [“In a Valley of Violence”] review (laughter), and they will know what I said! (laughs)
Ref: I buy him as, not necessarily as a western, but I buy him in this situation.
Critic: Got it.
Ref: So, it’s the first time we’ve seen Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua together again since “Training Day.”
Ref: And, quite frankly, Ethan Hawke didn’t have enough. His character was a pivotal character —
Ref: — and he has some shifty things happen, but it wasn’t enough. And who could forget about Haley Bennett? I mean —
Ref: — she dug deep! She’s this woman who’s desperately needing her town to be freed, and she has a definite motivation.
Critic: Some of these performances, I’m like, “Wait a minute, now!”
Ref: Yes! She had some pretty amazing scenes with some GRAVITAS! (laughter) And you bought her as someone who would do anything that she needed to do to make sure that she helps out the people she loves. So, hats off to her. The real MVP goes to Vincent D’Onofrio.
Critic: How can it not?
Ref: I mean, talk about A CHOICE! (laughs) He plays this big, huge grizzly of a man, who’s really lost everything and has nothing else to lose and lives life that way. (laughter) But, as big as he is, as robust as he is, (drops her voice) as dangerous as he is —
Ref: — he does the opposite with his voice.
Ref: He does the opposite. He is this mountain of a man, and he (in a higher pitched voice) sort of talks like this. (laughter) (still in higher pitched voice) And, he’s like, “I don’t know. You kinda gotta …” (in her normal voice) And he’s quoting scriptures as he’s killing people. I mean (laughter), it’s a marvelous performance! I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did the audience. We were laughing out loud. And, it wasn’t because of the writing —
Ref: — because most of his laughs, most of the connections we will have with him, are the spontaneous things that he does.
Ref: So, I really do have to give a hats-off to him. Now, is this movie worth seeing?
Ref: It is, for me. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think it was gonna be great.
Ref: And it wasn’t GREAT —
Ref: — but it was enough to wet the whistle of the fall movie release. It’s a nice start to fall; it’s not great. I have to say this: There [were] two thoroughly long shootout scenes, which I, personally, liked. Because, folks, 2016 is the year of the western. We had “The Duel”; we had whatever that — Ethan Hawke was —
Critic: “In a Valley of Violence.”
Ref: We have, even, “The Dressmaker.” Now, we’ve got “The Magnificent Seven.” It’s all a lot of western, and out of those, “Magnificent Seven” is the best one.
Ref: Not necessarily because of the direction, but it was definitely because of the performances and the shootout scenes. And, I will say this: Of those three, besides “The Dressmaker,” there is a running theme at the end of the movie.
Critic: Oh, no.
Ref: It’s the same sort of ending, and you’re like, “Oh, I wish you would have come up with a different, alternative ending.” And, you will know, Critic, ‘cause you’ve seen those three movies, how the bad guy gets his due. With that being said, do you need to go see this in a theater? Why not? If you just want to see a widescreen view of a good shootout, do it. There were some great performances. If you don’t want to, you’re OK, as well.
Critic: Well, you know what? Whether you’re going or whether you’re not, let me tell you this: We are transitioning into the fall. “The Magnificent Seven” is here to help us with that. It is in theaters, everybody, nationwide on Friday, September 23. Will I see you there? I don’t know —
Ref: No! (laughter) You won’t, but that’s why I went.
Critic: There you go. Thank you, Ref. And, everybody, enjoy the shoot ‘em ups of “The Magnificent Seven.”