starring Denzel Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Pratt
screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk
directed by Antoine Fuqua
by Walter Chaw That there isn't more of a conversation around Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent 7 beyond the usual wag-talk about the relative merits of sequels and remakes speaks to something like cultural progress, for what it's worth. The popular criticism of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it's derivative and took "no chances." My response is that the heroes of the film are a young woman, a young black man, and a Guatemalan--all in a franchise that set back the racial conversation by about thirty years with its astonishingly tone-deaf prequel trilogy. The Force Awakens, in other words, took a hell of a lot of chances, particularly in consideration of the vile blowback Paul Feig's Ghostbusters suffered for having the temerity to recast a well-remembered bro-fave with women. The Magnificent 7 takes a few chances as well by recasting John Sturges's well-remembered bro-fave Kurosawa remake with Denzel Washington (in the Yul Brynner lead), Byung-hun Lee (possibly the biggest star in Asia), Tlingit/Koyukon-Athabascan actor Martin Sensmeir, and Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. The press junket made a lot of this multi-culturalism and there's a passing reference to it in most reviews of the picture, but like The Force Awakens, the prevailing attitude is that The Magnificent 7 is derivative and that's that. It is that, but that's not all it is.