Rated Greg’s All Time Favorite Westerns* – Ranked
- Django Unchained
- The Hateful Eight
*Full Disclosure: I have not seen any of your father’s favorite Westerns. This includes the original Magnificent Seven, Butch Cassidy, The Good Bad And Ugly, shit… even with Blazing Saddles I’ve only seen bits and pieces. Maybe once I’m a full-time movie critic I’ll have the time to sit down and fully soak these in.
Any slightly more than casual NFL fan is well aware of LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Not necessarily because of any recent success his teams have achieved, but because he’s openly mocked for an uncanny ability to finish with six to eight total wins seemingly every single season (he even addressed this in an HBO Hard Knocks episode last month). In fairness, the year-end records of 6-10, 7-9, or 8-8 have only occurred in 12 of his 20 full seasons of coaching, but this includes a current streak of six straight seasons starting in 2009. Part of the joke is bafflement over how someone with such a mediocre coaching resume keeps signing contract extensions, wondering if Fisher has some sort of dirt on his billionaire bosses or if they’re just feeling nostalgic over his Super Bowl trip with the Titans…. SEVENTEEN years ago. Whatever the reason is, it’s strange given the fact that most NFL owners go through head coaches faster than Jerry went through girlfriends on Seinfeld.
What’s all of this got to do with The Magnificent Seven you ask? Well, I wonder if Hollywood views The Magnificent Seven’s director, Antoine Fuqua, the same way the NFL public sees Jeff Fisher. Like Fisher, he still seems to be skating by on a singular gem of a job a decade and a half ago. Don’t get me wrong, Fuqua’s 2001 film Training Day is probably a top 5 cop movie of all time, but there has to be some sort of statute of limitations on inserting “From the director of Training Day” onto each of your subsequent movie posters fifteen years later (seriously, take a look below). It’s like if the Rams came out for the home opener and the announcer bellowed “From the leader of the 1999 Super Bowl Runner-Up, YOUR 2016 LA RAMS!!!”
I’m not even saying the rest of Fuqua’s movies are that bad necessarily, just extremely forgettable 7-9 or 8-8 seasons for the most part (Southpaw and Magnificent Seven would probably earn a 9-7 record in a weak division). What saves The Magnificent Seven is Denzel doing Denzel things, only with a cool hat and a trusty horse. He seems right at home in what’s hard to believe is his first Western. As the title suggests, there’s other characters of course but they’re better off just playing the offensive line to Denzel’s quarterback. Even Chris Pratt, one of the very few legitimate American movie stars under 40, can barely keep up and comes off a little flat. The latter half inevitably features an impressive and lengthy shootout, but overall this film will remind you more of the old Wild West show at Wild World (aka Adventure World, aka Six Flags: PGC) than any of the Top Five Westerns listed above. Tier 4