By Cynthia Ayala
“Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.”
Who doesn’t like a good western film with solid characters? This film brings to life another adaptation of the Seven Samurai giving it a nice feel of the characters and the setting. The conflict is established very early on giving the film a cohesive feeling overall. There is some hint that Chisolm (played by Denzel Washington) has more in mind of helping out these people than he lets on. What’s good about that is the fact that it’s not overtly obvious about what is going on with him. Instead, there is an openness about it that it can go either way, but the viewer doesn’t know until the end. It’s good storytelling because it doesn’t distract from the story as a whole, it adds to it.
Like any other Western film, you have the villain who has to be stopped, this greedy man who wants gold and land and is willing to do what it takes in order to get it. There is no real way to have a Western film without that center piece. But the way the film moves forward is done well. It rises, and the pace it holds keeps the viewer entertained. There isn’t a lot of story here, it is an action film, but what makes it good is how character oriented it is, which more than makes up for the lack of story.
The characters were all well-rounded characters, and they were anti-heroes, mostly. They were men who were brought into this fold by Chisolm and they weren’t in it to do anything grand, they all had their reasons for it, all of which were selfish. But they grow. These characters grow to care, they grow invested in the town and the way to actors and the film shows it gives depth to the film overall. Not to mention there is so much star power in the film and it’s not for nothing. These are great actors, all of which had great chemistry with one another and they brought to life their characters wonderfully.
Another part of the film that is strongly highlighted is the application of corruption. Yes, Western films are full of them but there was something unique here about it. Both sides have a Native American in their midst, and through very little action, the viewer can see how the one is corrupted and how the other remains true to the protection of innocents who are being threatened, their land on the verge of being taken from them. It was a great way to highlight that aspect of the film and gave it a uniqueness to it.
Overall, yes, this is action-packed Western film, but when one combines the acting, writing, and directing, it becomes something more, something fuller that hooked the viewer, making this a very enjoyable film. (★★★☆ | B+)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto & Richard Wenk