Viewed – 28 September 2016 Cinema
Remakes will always be a tough sell, and we’ve had to endure some shite in the past. I noticed that the critical reception for this latest effort has been rather mixed. I never saw the original movie and probably never ill. So I’m probably in the best position to take this one in with a fairly open mind. Denzel Washington is a bounty hunter / marshal who comes to the aid of a recently widowed woman who’s town has been taken over by a ruthless businessman out to plunder the mines for any gold he can find. Washington agrees to help the woman seek revenge but first must rally a group of cowboys and what not to his aid. Along for the ride is a card hustler (Chris Pratt), a sharp shooter (Ethan Hawk) and an assassin (Byung-hun Lee).
Antoine (Training Day) Fuqua’s movie is immediately attractive and captures the setting and especially the feel of a western brilliantly. He has a keen eye for iconic shots and delivers in the action, where I’d go as far as to say this has some of the best action of the year for me, complete with excellently choreographed gunfights and traditional (not CGI) stunt work. The plot for what it is, is simple and only serves to bring together a likeable gang of gunslingers that I quickly grew to care about. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before but when it’s got stand-outs from Washington and Pratt as well and plenty of energy and a great score from James Horner – what’s there to grumble about?
If I was to nit-pick it would be to say the movie does revel in it’s clichés such as how it’s filmed, typical western movie imagery and well, several moments that occur are typical of the genre to the point of near-parody. Also characterisation, which with such an ensemble cast isn’t easy could have been a little better. I wanted more backstory to Denzel’s character which would have added weight to a later revelation, and well, we learn pretty much nothing about who Chris Pratt is other than handy with a gun and a deck of cards.
Yet this feels like a celebration not just of the movie it’s based on but westerns as a whole. So in that respect I can forgive it’s familiarity or lack of anything particularly new and just enjoy it for what it is – damn good entertainment.
Verdict: 4 /5