Cowgirls Wanted- ★½
Peter Sarsgard plays Bart Bogue, a real mean summabitch hell bent on driving the good innocent farming folk of Rose Creek off their land. It falls to Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) to go in search of men, magnificent men, who will help her cowardly man friends defend themselves and save their livelihood. Man number one is Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and along with man number two Faraday (Chris Pratt), they go and rustle up the five other outsiders to complete their very own band of merry men.
Now the original The Magnificent Seven (1960) is not a great western it’s a perfectly average one, more known for its big names, Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, than any real sense of drama we get with the Spaghetti Westerns or great cinematography that we saw in John Ford’s films. In the original we had the seven defending a bunch of poor Mexican farmers. With our present seven, the Mexicans seem to be the only race you can still make acceptable racist jibes about. The very fact that Chisolm happens to be a black cowboy is never referenced once, which is great but so ridiculous it makes Blazing Saddles a more historically accurate film. The animosity to Native Americans is swept largely under the carpet and the only white man who acknowledges said hatred is promptly dispatched.
The only two Native American characters in the film can only dole out violence against the other because we all know Cowboys and Indians were the best of friends after the civil war. So with both these preposterous notions, there is still no room for a female cowboy. Sure that would be just fucking ridiculous. It doesn’t matter that Emma Cullen sets the whole film in motion by having the guts to go searching for the men and begs them to save her village while most of the men cower indoors. She is then put to one side while the men do all the huffing and puffing, only being considered able to fight as a last resort. Her character doesn’t exist in the original and the degree to which she is side-lined here when the action kicks off is insulting and shows the inclusion of a female character was tokenism of the highest order. The film is called The Magnificent Seven not The Magnificent Seven men. If film-makers can re write history so blatantly it really is time for them to include women.
All the best lines have been lifted from the original script and they don’t play what is most associated with the film, its title theme music until the credits roll. So, as with all re-makes we are left asking ourselves what was the point?
The Magnificent Seven opens nationwide on the 23rd of September
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