Lightning Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016) movie posterSynopsis
When gold baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) forces the residents of Rose Creek to evacuate their town, several people refuse. After her husband is murdered by Bogue for standing up to him, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) seeks help from the bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). Chisolm recruits several other men to help teach Rose Creek townsfolk to defend themselves against Bogue and his men before they attack the town.

I’ve never seen the original 1960s The Magnificent Seven and it has been a very long time since I have seen Seven Samurai, so I can’t really attest to how the remake of a remake compares to its predecessors. But what I can tell you is that it makes for a fun ride if you take it for what it is.  The Magnificent Seven is first and foremost an action flick.  There is the potential for great character development but this film foregoes that to pack in as much explosions, gun-slinging, and excitement as possible.  The titular seven are each given the simplest of reasons for helping the townsfolk of Rose Creek. But you know what? That’s OK.  Director Antoine Fuqua understands exactly what kind of movie he wants this to be and doesn’t try to pretend it is something it’s not.

The cast is pretty start studded, including seasoned stars like Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and latest acting sensation Chris Pratt. I barely recognized Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays the Kingpin in Netlix’s Dardevil series, until a friend pointed out to me it was him.  Each character is unique and the cast is extremely diverse, making for some amusing and playful banter between them.  Pratt is a hoot as always and Washington gets the most screen time of anybody (mostly since he is the one who rounds up the group) but each of the other Seven gets their time to shine on screen.  The cast alone is well worth the time spent watching the film.

I thought The Magnificent Seven was GOOD :-). It is the definition of summer blockbuster. If you are looking for some deeper film with character study, then maybe check out Seven Samurai, one of this remake’s source materials. But if you want a popcorn flick with fun characters, good laughs, and a lot of action, then you’re looking in the right place.


Cast & Crew
Antoine Fuqua – Director
Richard Wenk – Screenplay
Nic Pizzolatto – Screenplay
Simon Franglen – Composer
James Horner – Composer

Denzel Washington – Sam Chisolm
Chris Pratt – Josh Faraday
Ethan Hawke – Goodnight Robicheaux
Byung-hun Lee – Billy Rocks
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Vasquez
Martin Sensmeier – Red Harvest
Vincent D’Onofrio – Jack Horne
Haley Bennett – Emma Cullen
Cam Gigandet – McCann
Peter Sarsgaard – Bartholomew Bogue
Luke Grimes – Teddy Q
Jonathan Joss – Denali
Emil Beheshti – Maxwell
Mark Ashworth – Preacher
Billy Slaughter – Josiah
Carrie Lazar – Leni Frankel

Lightning Review: Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry movie posterSynopsis
Henry wakes up with no memory and much of his body replaced with cybernetic parts. Before he can understand what happened to him, his wife, Estelle (Haley Bannett), gets kidnapped by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a man the telekinetic powers. On his quest, he receives help from the mysterious Jimmy (Sharlto Copley).

Normally I don’t go for movies with a first-person perspective, such as found footage films, but Hardcore Henry looked too interesting to pass by. The thing about Hardcore Henry is that although it is told from a first-person perspective, there is no time to focus on how disorienting it can be. It never gives you the chance to get your bearings. As soon as the action starts, which is about five minutes into the film, it literally never stops for more than a couple minutes. The entire time I kept thinking “what the hell is going on?” but I was too hooked to care. The only way I can describe my experience watching this movie is it was like watching someone else play a video game for an hour and a half. The acting, the story, the perspective, the action, everything felt like a video game. There was even a surprising amount of humor, mostly from Sharlto Copley’s character, but also from the music. When the fights kick into gear, the music kicks up too. It doesn’t sound like your traditional action movie music. I found myself smirking at how out of place it felt but at the same time it felt perfect.

I thought Hardcore Henry was GOOD :-). This style of film isn’t my usual cup of tea but there is so much going on, I couldn’t even focus on the fact I couldn’t focus on anything. I know that sounds weird but it made for a very interesting and entertaining experience.

Henry was played by 10 different stuntmen and cameramen, including the director Ilya Naishuller. (via IMDB)


Cast & Crew
Ilya Naishuller – Director / Writer
Darya Charusha – Composer

Sharlto Copley – Jimmy
Danila Kozlovsky – Akan
Haley Bennett – Estelle
Tim Roth – Henry’s Father
Andrei Dementiev – Slick Dmitry
Oleg Poddubnyy – Yuri
Will Stewart – Robbie
Iilya Naishuller – Timothy / Higher-Self Mercenary