Return of the Seven

  • Directed by Burt Kennedy
  • October 19, 1966

Chris Adams gathers together a new group of rogues to defend some Mexican villagers from bandits.

Up until fairly recently I was completely unaware that the classic The Magnificent Seven ever received one let alone three sequels. Considering filmmaking is a business more than an art it’s not surprising that success would beget more. I’m all in for old-school Westerns so I was game to check this out.

Calling this Return of the Seven is a bit of a stretch considering the number of deaths that occurred in the last film as well the reality the Yul Brynner as Chris Adams is the only returning actor from the last film as Robert Fuller, Julián Mateos and Elisa Montés takeover for Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz and Rosenda Monteros as Vinn Tanner, Chico and Petra. I really think this should’ve been given a name completely divorced from the first film even though it is the second film in a series. I am thinking something in that same world but would not be viewed as a direct successor.

Much like the reboot of The Magnificent Seven, one of the issues Return of the Seven suffers from is its association by name. Both needed a name all their own in order to truly shine as films under their own merits and suffer because of comparisons. While not great it is acceptable enough to pass the time and an enjoyable outing despite its flaws.

Return of the Seven’s other problem is it is rehashes too much of the last film. Sequels to films tend to have many properties of their predecessors but this is almost an exact redo of the last film in so many ways. They even returned to the town they originally defended because it’s in trouble yet again. You can certainly go through some of the similar motions but following too closely to the formula of the first film is a big mistake.

Yul Brynner’s Chris Adams is much more a warrior philosopher than he is a thinking gunslinger. He dispenses wise words to the frightened townspeople in order to keep them brave and strong enough to make it through the coming fight. He rally’s his people and keeps them on the right path.

Warren Oates, Claude Akins, Jordan Christopher and Virgilio Teixeira star as Colbee, Frank, Manuel De Norte, and Luis Emilio Delgado respectively. These are hard men and stern characters each with their own problems and demons, but they are not as well-rounded as the characters were in the last film. And this time around rather than seek something greater than themselves they seem to be looking more for a way to end their lives heroically. Not a bad idea but the reasons why don’t really come through. 

The original was a little over two hours long and it used all that time to not only build up the concept but build up the characters. It made the final confrontation of the film epic and grand. It made you sympathize and feel for the characters. This is a little over 95 minutes and it spends a great deal of time setting the stage for the finale but not too much building up the characters so that when they die or whatever occurs with them doesn’t have much impact. 

That lack of time also makes the deeper themes they may have been going for-if they were going for them at all-rather lacking. I’m left with a distinct impression that they were simply trying to do an action packed Western rather than something a little more meaningful as the last one was. I believe in modern parlance that is what is called a shallow cash grab.

As action-adventure stories go Return of the Seven is not bad. It’s an enjoyable adventure with good guys facing off against bad guys and coming out on top with townsfolk who are saved by heroic gunslingers. The characters can be tough and stern and there is some good dialogue. As gash grabs go, it is better than most.

Our two sides are opposed but not in stark contrast. Perhaps it is because the Seven are doing good because it is good and the baddies are doing bad to others because they are strong and their victims are weak. You get not much beyond that and a need to build church in honor of a dead rancher’s son.

As a sequel to the legendary The Magnificent Seven, Return of the Seven pales in comparison. As a film of its own it’s not too bad. Not great but not a disaster. It’s an enjoyable enough film but not one that looks good in comparison to its predecessor. If you’re looking for something as wonderful as the first film this is not it. If you’re looking for an enjoyable yet disposable Western, then check this one out.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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