At the suggestion of David Schow, I streamed this Norwegian revenge flick through Netflix. Think “Death Wish” crossed with “Fargo” and “Yojimbo” and you’ve got the idea. The Norwegian snowscapes are as daunting as they are awe inspiring. (There’s something majestic about those snow plows sending up endless plumes of white.) Good cast, mostly strangers but so few of them survive it doesn’t matter. It’s all done with a bit of a wink; I even LOL’d in a couple of spots. (Remade – very well, in fact – as Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson.)


Okay, the first question is “Why?” The 1960 version, from its iconic cast to its rousing score, is nearly perfect. The remake ups the violence and creates a more politically acceptable villain (i.e., a white businessman instead of a Mexican bandito). Sarsgaard’s villain is a flat, mustache twirling psycho murderer, whereas Eli Wallach’s Calvera was mostly looking to keep his men fed.

But the worst change is making it personal. The charm of the original was that the 7 were dinosaurs with little call for their skills and looking to earn a few bucks. When Calvera captures them, he doesn’t kill them because he’s afraid all their friends will cross the border looking for revenge. The sad irony here is that these guys have no friends up north. All they have are the bonds forged with each other as they worked with the peasants on defense. And lo and behold, they’ve become invested in the village. The remake gives Denzel’s Chisolm a personal reason to gather the 7, which strikes a false note at the end.
Wisely, they kept some of the iconic lines, like, “I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.” And “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Vincent D’Onofrio (not one of my fave actors, as a rule) is a hoot here; he and Pratt look like they’re enjoying themselves.


A good-natured, fun, sometimes funny animal buddy flick with excellent backgrounds and animation. That said, except for Kevin Hart as Snowball, the voice characterizations are meh (and why Albert Brooks gets an “and” is beyond me). I was wondering why this film grossed close to $1B (most of it overseas) and then realized: Pets are a universal common denominator, and the animators nailed pet behaviors. Everyone seeing this film recognized their pet in one of the characters.


I thought this would be more fun. And funnier. All the good lines are in the trailer. For the most part it’s grim laced with more grim and sprinkled with stupid. Stick me in front of a well-done film and I’ll buy into the most preposterous scenario. But I couldn’t buy any of this. Even Harley got old. And I hated Leto’s Joker. Heath Ledger’s layered portrayal set the standard and all Jokers must be measured against his.