Mild Mild West: A Review of “The Magnificent Seven”

Art by Helen Teague

Art by Helen Teague

What do you get when you mix “There Will Be Blood,” “Django Unchained,” and literally any traditional western ever? The answer is “The Magnificent Seven”, a two-hour romp with big names and bigger gunslingin’ standoffs. Perhaps the most magnificent aspect of the film is the element of fantasy that miraculously protects the protagonists from any physical harm until the final showdown. In a refreshing change of pace from recent Tarantino fare like “Hateful Eight”– shockingly unrelated–and the aforementioned “Django,” “The Magnificent Seven” manages to pull off a western setting nearly devoid of racist overtones.

With ethnic minorities representing more than half of the titular brigade, it was refreshingly charming to step into the past without wading through a bog of slurs and references to someone’s “kind” (disclosure: there are one or two of the latter, still #progressive!). That being said, some cliché traps just couldn’t be avoided; the two native characters face off and the heavy-hearted deserter not-so-reluctantly returns to fight one last battle. Also, the leading female trains with a gun the whole movie, but can’t defend herself when attacked and only ever fires a useful shot against a distracted and already-moribund villain? Come on! Though predictability and awkward dialogue are the film’s greatest detractors, it’s an unpretentious and engaging gallop minus the historical guilt.