This Freshly Diverse 'Seven' Ups The Firepower The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a movie that's already a remake that's updated in both casting and body count.
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This Freshly Diverse 'Seven' Ups The Firepower

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This Freshly Diverse 'Seven' Ups The Firepower

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This Freshly Diverse 'Seven' Ups The Firepower

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Movie remakes have not been clicking with audiences lately. The new "Ghostbusters" will maybe break even. The latest versions of "Ben-Hur" and "Tarzan" each cost and lost a fortune. So what is Hollywood pushing this weekend? The magnificent - "The Magnificent Seven," which NPR critic Bob Mondello points out is a remake of a remake.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: In "Seven Samurai," seven warriors with swords walk into a Japanese village to protect it from bandits.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SEVEN SAMURAI")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, speaking Japanese).

MONDELLO: Only three will walk out. In the original "Magnificent Seven," seven gunslingers ride into a Wild West town to protect it from Mexican banditos.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN")

ELI WALLACH: (As Calvera) I leave these people a little bit extra, and they hire these men to make trouble.

MONDELLO: Only three ride out. Now comes "Magnificent Seven," the remake with some clearly intentional updates to a time-honored formula. No banditos this time - the bad guy is now a greedy corporate capitalist named Bogue, and the good guys - a rainbow coalition - Asian, Hispanic, Native American, a Confederate colonel, a guy described as a bear in people's clothes and a goofball gambler, all led by Denzel Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN")

DENZEL WASHINGTON: (As Chisolm) You tell Bogue, if he wants his town, come see me.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)

MONDELLO: Message presumably received. Actually, I say Denzel Washington leads this band of variously grumpy, dopey and bashful dudes, but they're actually in the employ of a woman this time - that's another change - a woman I started to think of as a particularly aggrieved Snow White.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN")

WASHINGTON: (As Chisolm) You seek revenge?

HALEY BENNETT: (As Emma Cullen) I seek righteousness, but I'll take revenge.

MONDELLO: Whistle while you work on that. The Old-West vistas and the artfully shot mayhem are appropriately flashy. If you're going to have church bells crashing down from flaming steeples, director Antoine Fuqua is the guy you want behind the camera. He previously teamed up with Denzel Washington on "Training Day" and "The Equalizer." And he seems to really enjoy watching his star ride a horse or even walk beside a horse. He also lets Chris Pratt crack wise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN")

CHRIS PRATT: (As Josh Faraday) Danny dead - pity. I had just ordered a drink from that man.

MONDELLO: As you might expect, the firepower is significantly increased here. I don't recall a Gatling gun in the 1960 version. And the climax is - let's just say explosive. So if body count is what you go to Westerns for, by all means, drift into this one's corral. It's hardly magnificent.

And apart from its casting, it's not doing anything new with its premise. But it's diverting in about the way you'd expect of a remake twice removed - a perfectly competent seven. I'm Bob Mondello.

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