I tend to enjoy Antoine Fuqua most when he drops airs of making a prestige picture and wallows in the exploitation genre ("Shooter," "Olympus Has Fallen"). But this big-budget Western remake boasts a couple of great performances from Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, not to mention photography by Mauro Fiore ("Avatar") and some testosterone-laden dialogue from "True Detective's" Nic Pizzolatto, so it's not all bad.
They squeezed all the juice out of it. You start with what may be the best movie of all time, 'The Seven Samauri', and they sanitized it. Nobody said the 'N' word. They threw in Byung-hun Lee for the Asian market. Denzel is still sleepwalking. Chris Pratt is not funny. Hollywood by the numbers.
Rousing and often action packed if unnecessary remake (of a remake). Washington equates himself well to the world of westerns often compensating for a smug Chris Pratt. The characters this time around are no more than a cypher simply hitting their marks as they go around. The camera work of Fiore is quite good and perhaps with a stronger director there could have been a little more substance.
Mostly solid, but Byung Hun-Lee Hun's largely dialog-free performance shows what this film should've been in some respect. Making the titular band of outlaws more of a presence and a force to be reckoned with than a gaggle of wisecracking, generic cowboy archetypes. It's not really a problem when that strong finale rolls around because then the larger problem comes to light - this should've been rated R.
Don't listen to naysayers, this is a "pop western" that is one helluva fun ride from start to finish, full of interesting characters throughout. It somewhat reminds me of a western that Tarantino would make, but to be honest, I'd watch this over Hateful Eight any day.