Return of the Seven

01 h 35 m
Burt Kennedy
Yul Brynner, Robert Fuller, Julián Mateos
"The Guns Blaze Again: `Return of the Seven`s` Fading Echo"

Posted Sunday, Nov 26, 2023 85

The 1966 Western `Return of the Seven`, helmed by director Burt Kennedy, serves as the sequel to the classic `The Magnificent Seven`. The film reunites audiences with the gunslinging heroes as they band together once more, this time to rescue their comrade, Chico, who`s been captured while protecting a Mexican village from a ruthless bandit leader. With only a handful of the original seven returning, the story attempts to rekindle the spirit of camaraderie and justice that defined its predecessor.

Kennedy`s sequel continues to explore themes of loyalty, bravery, and redemption, set against a bleak yet romanticized frontier backdrop. The tone strives to emulate the grandeur and heart of the original, focusing on the bond between men willing to stand against tyranny, albeit with less narrative depth.

Yul Brynner reprises his role as Chris Adams with the same stoic charisma, though there is palpable absence of some other key characters from the first film. The charismatic energy of Steve McQueen is substituted by the earnestness of Robert Fuller as Vin. Meanwhile, Julían Mateos`s take on Chico adds emotional weight to his plight and personal growth.

Director Burt Kennedy works to capture the legacy of the original film, keeping the action and camaraderie front and center. However, his grip on the reins is less assured than John Sturges`s deft guidance of the first outing, resulting in a sequel that often rides in the shadow of its iconic forebear.

Return of the Seven movie review

Elmer Bernstein`s iconic theme makes a welcome return, its familiar strains trying to uplift the sequel to the legendary status of `The Magnificent Seven`. While the rest of the score enhances the film`s drama and tension, it can`t quite escape the giant soundscapes sketched in the original movie.

The cinematography adapts to the well-established Western visual lexicon, leveraging the expansive landscapes and dramatic showdowns. Paul Vogel’s lens captures the rough beauty of the genre but without exceptional new vistas to set it apart.

The production design adheres to the Western motif with dusty towns and rural villages serving as modest battlegrounds. It faithfully reconstructs a frontier milieu that sadly lacks the freshness of its original incarnation.

Modest by today`s standards, the film`s special effects are limited to practical stunts and gunfight sequences. The authenticity of these confrontations honors the physicality of classic Western showdowns.

Return of the Seven movie review

With editing that maneuvers the narrative through a series of skirmishes and moral dilemmas, `Return of the Seven` maintains an understandable pace, though it sometimes falters in maintaining the tension that a Western demands.

The pacing suffers in comparison to the taut excitement of the original, with the sequel occasionally find itself meandering in the expanse of its own legend without delivering constant forward momentum.

The dialogue retains the direct and sharp-edged quality typical of Westerns, delivering pronouncements on life, death, and justice with a drawl. However, it can lack the compelling punch that characterized the standoffs and heart-to-hearts of the original ensemble.

As a critique, `Return of the Seven` could be seen as a retread rather than a reinvention or continuation, lacking the narrative richness and character dynamism that its predecessor had in spades. It runs the risk of being a pale imitation, a mirror held up to greatness, capturing a reflected and diluted image.

Despite these challenges, the film remains an enjoyable, if not extraordinary, Western adventure. There`s relish to be had in seeing Brynner`s Chris Adams ride again, offering up nostalgic thrills and gun-slinging action for fans of the original. What `Return of the Seven` may lack in originality, it partly makes up for in good old Western grit and a fond look back at the heroes of a bygone era.

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