The Magnificent Seven – Gala Presentation @ TIFF

An all-star cast — including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun and Peter Sarsgaard — saddles up for this blazing remake of the 1960 western classic from director Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer), about seven gunslinging mercenaries protecting a small community from a rapacious robber baron.

This exhilarating new vision of the classic tale of collective courage reunites action maestro Antoine Fuqua with two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington for their boldest collaboration yet. With its diverse cast and rivetingly staged set pieces, The Magnificent Seven redefines the western epic for our age as it re-examines the mythology of the American frontier.

Seeking to exploit the local mining industry, robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard, also at the Festival in Jackie) and his private army of henchmen stroll into the town of Rose Krick and execute a vicious takeover. Bent on revenge, townswoman Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) offers bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) her life savings if he will help restore order and liberate her community from Bogue’s bloody grip.

Chisolm gradually, and partly through happenstance, assembles a colourful company: a card sharp and explosives enthusiast (Chris Pratt), a former Confederate Army sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke, also at the Festival in Maudie), a knife-throwing assassin (Lee Byung-hun), an outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a warrior (Martin Sensmeier), and a wizened tracker (Vincent D’Onofrio). These seven freelancers with sundry skills and experience accept the gig for money, but wind up fighting for something far more meaningful. The odds are against them, their situation almost suicidal, but their lives mean little if they cannot stand for justice in a barely established society already overpowered by greed and hegemony.

With epic-scale cinematography from long-time Fuqua ally Mauro Fiore and a rousing score from veteran Hollywood composers James Horner and Simon Franglen, this fresh, imaginative update offers a deeply immersive, big-screen experience. But it is the charismatic, finely detailed performances from the stunning ensemble cast that truly win the day. Through scenes of bracing violence, sly humour, and great heroism, Washington, Hawke, Pratt, Lee, and the gang are magnificent indeed.

@ TIFF 16 Sat Sep 10  Wed Sep 14

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