I'll admit, it's hard not to grade on a curve for "The Magnificent Seven" because I love westerns and especially the original 1960 version. And I want more of these. The good news is, there's no need to make excuses for it because this movie does exactly what it sets out to very well.
There's no harm in remaking "Magnificent Seven," which was itself a remake of "Seven Samurai." And just like the 1960 movie, this new one reflects the modern sensibilities of its time. There's an ethnically diverse cast - some of whom are still mired in stereotype, and the villain is a white businessman (after real estate), rather than Mexican outlaws.
As it was in the original, this new "Magnificent Seven" features some of the coolest dudes around coasting on their charm and gravitas with guns-a-blazin. Denzel Washington is cool incarnate as a bounty hunter with a soft spot to help a small town threatened by robber baron played by Peter Sarsgaard and his hired henchman. Chris Pratt leaves no doubt he's the real deal for charismatic star power and Ethan Hawke gets some red meat to chew as sharpshooter with scars from the war.
The rest of the "Seven" get their moments to shine, and the ensemble cast is solid. Antoine Fuqua has proven himself a gifted action director, and the extended final battle feels more like "The Wild Bunch," which ain't a bad thing.
The body count has to be one of the highest I've seen allowed in a PG-13 movie, and the filmmakers try to toe the line between fun shoot-em-up moments of souls searching about violence.
There's nothing new or unpredictable here, but it's a lot more fun that most of what we saw this summer.