The Magnificent Seven remake rounds up intriguing ensemble cast

The Magnificent Seven(1960) James Coburn and Steve McQueen

With Quentin Tarentino’s The Hateful Eight due in theaters in November, we can only hope Westerns have another shot at making a comeback.  Will a remake of one of the all-time, best-reviewed classic Westerns indicate other studios jumping on the bandwagon?

Actor Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern, Orphan, The Skeleton Key) is the latest addition to the cast of a remake of The Magnificent Seven being finalized for a 2017 release by MGM and Sony.  Based on a reworked script by Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective) and John Lee Hancock (Snow White And The Huntsman) from the classic John Sturges film starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, the new version will be directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer, Shooter, King Arthur, Training Day).  The villain in the original 1960 story of an oppressed Mexican farming village seeking a small band of mercenaries for protection was played by Eli Wallach.

The only actor we think is missing from this remake is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who we would cast as Brynner’s badass hero.  Still, the list of leading actors revealed so far is promising: Denzel Washington (2 Guns, Unstoppable, The Manchurian Candidate, Training Day, Philadelphia, Much Ado About Nothing), Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, Moneyball, Everwood), Vincent D’Onofrio (Men in Black, Jurassic World, Daredevil), Byung-hun Lee (Terminator Genisys, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, RED 2), Matt Bomer (White Collar, Tru Calling, Chuck), and Ethan Hawke (Gattaca, Dead Poet’s Society, White Fang, Alive, Training Day, Assault on Precinct 13) should come together to form an interesting ensemble cast.

Byung-Hun Lee in I Saw the Devil
Byung-Hun Lee on horseback in I Saw the Devil.

The 1960 cast was as gritty as they come:  Brynner and McQueen were joined by Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn with Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz.

If you think a remake of one of the greatest Westerns of all time is a bad idea, recall that The Magnificent Seven itself was a remake of Akira Kurasawa’s equally superb The Seven Samurai from 1954, starring Takashi Shimura and Toshirô Mifune.  We’d also count Washington, Bomer, Hawke, Lee, and Pratt among our favorite actors in Hollywood, so this will be worth a shot.

Other actors slated for the remake include Luke Grimes and Haley Bennett.  Rumored to be in discussions to star in everything from a new Ghostbusters to a new Indiana Jones movie, Chris Pratt is destined to be a comedic tagline: “… and of course, also starring Chris Pratt.”

Matt Bomer Winters Tale
Matt Bomer plays genre role in A Winter’s Tale.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to reinvigorate The Magnificent Seven for modern audiences.  In 1966 You Brunner returned to his character in Return of the Seven, also starring Warren Oates and Claude Akins.  In 1969 Guns of the Magnificent Seven starred George Kennedy as Yul Brynner’s character, Chris.  In 1972 The Magnificent Seven Ride! starred Lee Van Cleef as Chris, with James Whitmore and Joe Don Baker.  Between 1998 and 2000 a TV series called The Magnificent Seven survived 22 episodes, featuring Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Tombstone), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Star Trek: Nemesis, Pacific Rim), Laurie Holden (Major Crimes, The Walking Dead, The X-Files), and the original movie’s star Robert Vaughn (Bullitt).  None of these came close to the quality and excitement of the 1960 version.

We’re talking up this film pretty early.  The theatrical release date is tentatively targeted for January 13, 2017.

C.J. Bunce

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