Looking to mine for gold, greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) seizes control of the Old West town of Rose Creek. With their lives in jeopardy, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and other desperate residents turn to bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) for help. Chisolm recruits an eclectic group of gunslingers to take on Bogue and his ruthless henchmen. With a deadly showdown on the horizon, the seven mercenaries soon find themselves fighting for more than just money once the bullets start to fly.
Usually when you throw in names like Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and others, most people (myself included) would be all over that but this one was so much more. It’s easy to make parallels to Suicide Squad as this is another genre but is still a “big” name team up film. The problem with that one was its lack of personality and fun since it did not allow for its eccentric characters’ personalities to come out. This film was what Suicide Squad should have been (at least to me).
Some people probably may not care how they got together. For those who do, in case they didn’t already know, in order to stop a greedy baron type named Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard), a woman named Emma Cullen (Bennett) enlists a bounty hunter named Sam Chisolm (Washington). Along the way, he recruits a gambler named Josh Farraday (Pratt), a sharpshooter named Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a tracker named Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), an assassin named Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a Mexican outlaw named Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
As we meet them, we get glimpses into each character and of their different personalities. These were fun to watch as the film eased us into each one until they finally all came together and watching all the personalities play off of each other was entertaining to watch. It would have been nice to have seen more of their personalities individually and together which would have made it more fun. Chisolm’s motivations for doing this may not have been the clearest but he was able to convince all the others to join him based on his connection to all the other characters.
Once they got to the town, they had to prepare them for what was about to come and that was easier said than done. The town’s people weren’t exactly the fighting type so it was up to the seven to teach them. Their personalities continued in these moments where they would teach these people in different ways. Of course they didn’t become experts but seeing them get the courage to finally defend themselves was compelling even though it was really the seven who did most of the work.
It just all would have been more impactful if the film had given them a better villain to deal with. Bogue barely got any time that would have helped establish him more but the film was more about the team coming together than him. He appears at the beginning and then almost disappears. He just never seemed threatening whatsoever as he mostly acted through others. He looked like one of those cliche, moustache-twirling bad guy types so it was hard to ever take him seriously while he kept spewing cheesy lines.
The film featured a decent amount of action, most notably some exciting shootout sequences. The film takes some time to get there as it established the characters and the setting but it was well worth the wait. They were both fast paced and well shot, more so later on. Everybody did not look out of place although it did happen a little too easy at times. It would have been nice if there was some more. The best part of the film has to be the amazing score by James Horner (this was his last before passing away last year). It was very immersive and reminiscent of past great westerns.
The acting was excellent throughout with Washington standing out above the others for obvious reasons. The film gave Chisolm most of the focus, giving Washington plenty of opportunities to shine and that he did. As Chisolm, he brought boatloads of charisma and had great screen presence while also handling himself admirably in all of the action scenes. Farraday had the next most focus and Pratt unsurprisingly brought the same. Although his character is not that much different from past characters, Pratt was still dynamite on screen. The other members of the seven were good too but because of the focus on Chisolm, and to a lesser extent Farraday, there was less of an emotional connection with them.
Overall, this was an entertaining action western with a decent story (which almost doesn’t matter), some tremendous action, an amazing score, and some terrific performances.