Monday, 26 September 2016

REVIEW - THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (ANTOINE FUQUA)


For all that Antoine Fuqua may be a forceful director, ever seeking a dynamic set-piece and a capable director of action, he's a dismal storyteller. Tasked with remaking a classic remake of another classic, and handed a promising script by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk, he yet again proves himself incompetent at dealing with the most basic elements of filmmaking, and The Magnificent Seven thus falls far short of the magnificence it touts. Whether smearing the screen with sun-dappled lens flare courtesy Mauro Fiore's insipid cinematography, or flattening out all the thematic texture with John Refoua's workmanlike edit and his own inability to stage dialogue, Fuqua ensures that, no matter what noble or exciting aspirations to which this film may strive, it'll eternally fail to strike one as anything nobler than just average. The warning signs arrive early - whatever hopes you may harbour that The Magnificent Seven might recreate the timbre of Hollywood's many iconic mid-century Westerns are succinctly dashed by sorry choices such as an unremarkable aesthetic scheme and an astonishing over-reliance on ADR (entire sequences feature not a single word visibly uttered on the screen, yet line after line exits the speakers). Better to sit back and anticipate the inevitably arresting action, which papers over some issues of confusion and continuity with its general fast pace and some committed performances. No-one commands the screen quite like Denzel Washington, and there are vivid turns from Vincent d'Onofrio, Lee Byung Hun and Peter Sarsgaard (the narrow winner of the most closely-contested game of 'Who Would Paddy Fuck First From The Cast?' in years). Strictly surface pleasures then, but pleasures nonetheless.