The Magnificent 7: Ranking Denzel Washington and the Star Actors in Remake

By Kody Miller
Published on September 22, 2016
Chris Pratt in the Magnificent Seven Movie

It’s always interesting when Hollywood tries to remake a classic movie. It’s even more interesting when it actually works out and even arguably exceeds the original.

While it’s tough to say that is happening with this latest rendition of The Magnificent Seven, Denzel Washington certainly leads a raucous cast in one heck of an effort.

Topping an ensemble cast led by Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson is definitely daring – if not cocky. However, the newest The Magnificent 7 either comes very close or actually accomplishes the impossible.

Whether or not that’s actually the case is ultimately up to the viewer, but the critics grade it fairly enough (61%) and out of over 20,000 user ratings, 98% “want to see it”.

The popularity and stars are there, so whether or not the remake does what it sets out to is for the viewers to declare.

What we want to know is if this band of The Magnificent 7 holds a candle to the original batch. Comparing the two may be impossible, but we can at least compare The Magnificent 7 characters to each other. The best way to do that is by ranking The Magnificent Seven remake actors and how they played their roles:

Martin Sensmeier – Red Harvest

Sensmeier is hard to find impressive in this giant cast, as he doesn’t leave a huge mark with much wit or intense action. Largely restricted to a bow and arrow, the warrior of the group certainly chips in and fills his role, but doesn’t really stand out.

In a group of witty actors who sell the masculine side of being a gunfighter, Sensmeier’s take of Red Harvest does mesh well, but isn’t powerful enough on its own to lure you away from the other characters.

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Vasquez

It’s pretty arguable that Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stands out a bit, as he has a little banter with Chris Pratt’s character and comes off as a guy who is completely comfortable with his role.

Vasquez knows who he is and why he’s here, and he doesn’t show fear or restraint. He also isn’t overpowering or overly substantial, but like every one of the “7”, he still feels vital. He fits into the group well, but he could have done more to allow the character to shine over some of the others. That being said, he impressed enough to not finish last in our Magnificent 7 rankings.

Byung-hun Lee – Billy Rocks

Lee is mostly an unknown hen you look at the entire Magnificent 7 cast, but he’s had plenty of experience and may be best known for his role of Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Regardless of any past work, he certainly makes a name for himself in The Magnificent Seven, slicing and dicing his way into an underrated role as a member of this 7-pack of gunfighters.

Lee is not only part of an impressively diverse group, but he also brings an added flair as the gunman who prefers to use knives. Lee is no stranger to action, as he sells his role beautifully and is a very underrated part of this group when it comes to the impressive action sequences.

While Lee isn’t nearly as captivating as most of the other Magnificent Seven cast, he’s a bit of a badass and it’s hard not to marvel at his talents.

Ethan Hawke – Goodnight Robicheaux

Hawke certainly feels right in a modern Western, but he comes off as a bit old and maybe too conservative in his role as Goodnight Robicheaux, the sharpshooter. Those are his only downfalls, of course, as Hawke is another actor in this ensemble that remains incredibly underrated and has a fantastic blend of wit and charm.

Hawke is just as useful and necessary as the rest of the Magnificent 7 and he plays his role perfectly. It would have been nice if he was able to be a tad stronger in this role, but the movie didn’t really call for it.

Vincent D’Onofrio – Jack Horne

The trailer does not do D’Onofrio justice. At all.

Coming from a guy who flat out destroyed the role of Wilson Fisk in Daredevil and has handed in numerous other stellar roles – including an underrated run in Law and Order, we probably shouldn’t be surprised he knocks Jack Horne’s character out of the park.

D’Onofrio very well may be one of the most underrated actors in the modern era, as he finds a way to be convincing, captivating, self-deprecating and humorous – all at the same time. It probably wasn’t meant to be this way, but D’Onofrio is so strong here, he almost steals the entire movie.

Denzel Washington – Sam Chisolm

Washington is the leader who corrals this unlikely group. A bounty hunter by trade, Washington does here just as he does everywhere – makes you believe he is who he’s trying to portray.

Washington has always had the swagger and confidence to scare the hell out of you, and leading characters like this – especially in westerns – need to have the right mixture of fear and wit to both give you chills and make you laugh. Washington passes all phases and does a masterful job in a spot you wouldn’t expect him to – a Western.

A man haunted by the past and dedicated to the mission at hand, Washington’s Chisolm embodies depth and drive. Like every successful leading man in a good Western, Washington makes you want to believe he may never die. Mission accomplished.

Chris Pratt – Josh Faraday

Pratt is pretty much perfect for the cocky gambler Faraday, and just as you’d imagine, he delivers a mixed bag of bravado and humor, just as he has in the past.

Working his way up to this part with masculine roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, Pratt also leaned on his days from Parks and Recreation to make you feel at ease, while also leaving you impressed with his ability to light the world afire.

Pratt comes off a little more goofy than anyone from the original, but perhaps that’s the point. Washington and others help make this remake a little darker, while Pratt and others chip in as needed and also offer a more lighthearted approach.

As many would imagine, the rising and versatile Pratt steals the show. He has more wit and charm than Denzel here, and is often just as impressive when it comes to killing the bad guys.

The Magnificent 7 as a whole focuses largely on the main bad guy – a brilliant effort by the perfectly repulsive Peter Sarsgaard – the woman who hired the Seven (an underrated Haley Bennett) and the back and forth between Pratt and Washington.

They do all carry the movie and play the biggest roles, so it makes good sense. While Pratt and Washington end up grading out as the two best Magnificent Seven characters (and actors), it’s worth pointing out that this was a very complete, diverse and versatile unit. Each actor/character meshed well and was deserving of a nod. Specifically, we came away impressed with Byung-hun Lee and Vincent D’Onofrio, who both ranked well here, but couldn’t quite top Pratt and Denzel.

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donnie g | 26 Dec 2017
My favorites were the three who were not strictly gunfighters with Horne the top act.
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