Haley Bennett and Chris Pratt in 'The Magnificent Seven'

“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, which itself is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” We are presented with a photocopy of a photocopy. The result, predictably, is a washed out version of what was fresh 50 years ago.

You’ve heard the plot before if you’ve seen any western. Sweet, innocent farmers are being terrorized by a big, bad industrialist who wants to take the town so he can make even more money. The desperate townsfolk scrape together what they can, but can only afford a ragtag little band of misfits. But, somehow, the team is made up of the best cowboys in the west and they kick that yellow-bellied sapsucker in the keister. It even ends with the heroes riding off into the sunset.

Its generic plot is fittingly topped off with a generic final battle. As a fan of cowboy movies, I never thought I would get tired of watching people go flying off their horse after a well-placed blast from a six-shooter. This movie proved me wrong.

Pacing is this film’s biggest problem. Everything feels rushed to give the final battle more time. But devoting so much time to the battle is exactly what makes it so uninteresting, as the fast-paced western slows to a repetitive crawl during the climax.

Assembling the team, for example, is treated as an afterthought. The whole point of the film is that seven brave heroes are valiantly walking into a massacre, so they better have a good motivation. Yet it is just glossed over for each character. Ethan Hawke’s character joins simply because he is friends with Denzel Washington’s character, and as luck would have it he brings along a buddy, too. I like my friends, but I don’t know if I like them well enough to throw my life away.

The most interesting character backstory is given the least amount of time. Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) is a Comanche warrior who was exiled from his tribe. When he first meets the group he is distrustful and adversarial. Then, Washington speaks a little of his native tongue, takes a bite of a deer heart to prove himself trustworthy, and somehow this entices Red Harvest to trust a group of cowboys. Instead of taking time to explore this character’s background, he is simply checked off the list and the plot speeds forward.

The saving grace of the movie is the cast. Washington confidently leads as a gruff bounty hunter, lending a much needed intensity to an otherwise lackluster script. Chris Pratt provides exactly what you would expect from him: a charisma that would be severely lacking otherwise, smoldering looks into the camera and some pretty good wisecracks to fill the downtime. The best performance comes from Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of an over-the-hill scalper turned religious zealot. But, he is one of the last characters introduced and is pushed to the side, mostly reserved for small gags between him and Red Harvest. A scalper and a Native American eating dinner together? Hilarity, supposedly, ensues.

If you are dying to see a western with modern Hollywood actors, then go ahead and see this movie. You’ll see cowboys shoot someone then twirl their guns around, you’ll get a few laughs, and there are some really beautiful shots of Louisiana wilderness. Otherwise, this forgettable film is worth moseyin’ on by. “The Magnificent Seven” gets a modest six out of 10 stars.

Matthew Callahan is a junior media arts and design and writing, rhetoric and technical communication double major. Contact Matthew callahmx@dukes.jmu.edu.