This remake from director Antoine Fuqua, and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, sticks fairly close to the plot of the original from 1960. This is a steady and solid remake of the classic Western with a winning cast of characters. Jennifer Lawrence is on board as a young widow who is determined to rid her town of the villainous gang of outlaws running roughshod over the citizens. The old formula still holds: the town under siege, heroes riding in to save the day, upholding the values of the West while instilling revenge and righteous fury to right the wrongs they see. The audience seeks closure in the denouement, which is the ritual gunfight, or as it stands now, the gun battle. Finally the balance of the Universe is restored when right triumphs over overwhelming might.
Denzel Washington is one good reason to watch this film. Ethan Hawke is equally up to the challenge playing a broken but not bowed anti-hero role. There’s not much more to add as there is new ground broken here in movie history, but the storytelling elements of the film hold it together. Unlike the unfortunate Ben Hur remake, there is a cohesive plot to follow…thus making this film imminently more watchable. And for moviegoers hankering for the return of a good old-fashioned Western, this film delivers.
Chris Pratt may be slightly miscast with some of his comic asides delivering touches of awkward comic relief. When the character is a natural fit for a Western, as was the case for an actor like Steve McQueen, who starred in the original, it’s always hard to compare the performances. But as a whole this film, set firmly in the category long neglected in Hollywood of a pure Western movie, fits the bill nicely.