When a poor pioneer town is threatened by some no-good industrialist types (led by Peter Sarsgaard, (metaphorically) twirling his moustache with a vengeance!), bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) is approached to help the townsfolk regain control of their home – or at the very least, extract some revenge if not justice for the latest atrocity.
Chisolm gathers up a rag-tag bunch to aid in this quest: gamblers and degenerates, mostly, but allowing for quite the impressive cast, including Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, and Vincent D’Onofrio. Can the group overcome personal issues, let alone a well-armed group of evildoers?
The problem with remaking a classic – and indeed, sometimes just rewatching classics – is that the story has become a template for so much else. So while I haven’t seen the original (or what it was based on), the story here was very familiar. In fact, it’s become so part of mainstream culture that you could point to something as unlike it as Home Alone, and see the comparisons.
Which isn’t a weakness, per se, but definitely something to be aware of. It does allow for the plot to take second place to the character building, and that’s reasonably strong, if just a little too black and white at times: seven characters, at least five stereotypes covered? The main ‘difference’ is, of course, casting Denzel in the lead. He’s a superb actor, so that was always going to go well, but it did have a slight oddness when no one even mentions his race, after so many poor reactions to the other non-white characters. Hmm.
It’s not big, it’s not flashy, and indeed it’s possibly just a tad too slow, but worth the watch.
Released: 23rd September 2016
Viewed: 5th October 2016
Running time: 133 minutes
My rating: 7/10