A fun action filled western with the a large dose of summer popcorn fun.
This is a remake of the classic 1960 western of the same title, that at the time boasted some heavyweight names. This interpretation does the same, with a cast consisting of; Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt and Vincent D’Onofrio.
The plot is simple; you have a ruthless mine owner that is holding a small town hostage as he pillages the mines for gold, forcing the people of the small town to work for him, leave, or die. When a young woman’s husband is killed in front of her, she finds help from a bounty hunter and a band of outlaws that agree to help free them from the rule of this sinister industrialist.
First I will admit, I am not overly familiar with westerns, a classic western to me would be “Young Guns” so that may tell you something about how versed I am with cowboy’s and six-shooters. But with two of my top 5 favorite actors in Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, I was definitely anticipating this film’s release. Also with Antoine Fuqua directing I had hope this would me a fast paced, run-and-gun western that would entertain. For that aspect this movie definitely entertained me, but it was kind of soft in its overall impact.
It was simply fun action western with some great actors that do a solid job in a highly predictable story-line. It did look amazing in IMAX and I had fun during this movie, but I’m not sure I’ll ever race out to see it again in the future. First the good. Denzel. I don’t need to say more but I can, he was more than capable in the lead, he continues to show he can play any range of character types, and play them effectively. He without a doubt brought the quality of this film up a few notches. He felt every bit the part of a bounty hunter and his delivery was exactly what the story needed from scene to scene whether it was as a leader, a counselor, comic-relief, or imposing bad ass whose six shooter you never want to be on the business end of.
Ethan Hawke was also excellent in this movie and while his dialogue was minimal, he made the most of it, and added some validity to honestly, standard dialogue. With his charisma you can overlook some of his predictable character actions in the story. Vincent D’Onofrio was compelling and enjoyable as well as a somewhat reclusive bad ass that gets added to the group. He gave the character some charm and a range of personality from a deadly killer to a big teddy bear you just want to take a nap on.
Visually this was a very beautifully shot film with nice wide landscapes, all the details in the wardrobes and set-design were not overlooked and the settings easily pull you into the world of this late 1800’s story of revenge on the vast open countryside.
On the downside there was not a lot of substance to the story, or the characters. There was not a real development of how this group gets together thus later in the film when the intensity is supposed to be high as this group is in the middle of battle, the brotherhood they try to sell doesn’t really land. Nor did I really care too much about what happened to these characters. I never really got to know them or their motivations (for many of them) thus I could never really get invested.
Also Chris Pratt while he may be a super nice guy, a fellow Seattle Seahawk fan, and one of Hollywood’s Top-5 Golden Boys, just didn’t bring it for me in this movie. It’s possible he was overshadowed by power names like Denzel, Hawke and D’Onofrio, but regardless he didn’t really try to add a persona to his role. Yes his comic-relief landed, he was very amusing at times, but I feel it was at the expense of being able to take this film serious and as anything other than a pure action film with big names. Like the “Expendables”, set in the old west. Pratt was simply Owen from “Jurassic World” and Star-Lord, only with a couple pistols and cowboy boots, and I was just hoping for more.
Now I haven’t seen the original film, and before this movie was completely unaware of the plot, but during this movie there was so much foreshadowing that many conversations, story paths and twists were revealed way too early with loads of predictability, which also killed some of my enthusiasm while watching this movie. But in the end the third-act delivers a nicely choreographed battle that had me up in my seat. It was well shot, with some great practical effects and even though the bulk of the film was a mild let down, the doses of action and a nicely executed climactic showdown, deliver some true western vibes, and plenty of adrenaline pumping violence
I enjoyed this movie despite some of the flaws I found in it, but if you want a pure, turn your brain off action romp with a western setting, this film is worth a shot and I recommend it in IMAX. The sound quality and crisp, vivid colors definitely make the most out of it.
Time: 133 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For extended and intense sequences of western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.)