Clint Eastwood returns as a man with no name (who is, this time around, named Monco and is apparently not the same character from the first movie) and finds himself grudgingly teaming up with Lee Van Cleef as the pair of them, both bounty hunters, try to capture an infamous baddie and his unruly gang. The motive is money but there is more to it than that for Van Cleef's character and all will be revealed before a finale that will, inevitably, feature bullets under a boiling sun.
In the second instalment of the highly regarded "Dollars" trilogy we get all the same kind of fun we received the first time around plus a major bonus in the shape of Lee Van Cleef. The interplay between him and Eastwood provides a much more satisfying dynamic than we had the first time around. And the "hat duel" scene is both brilliantly entertaining and absolutely perfect in establishing the moral compass of both characters.
Also featuring another great score from Ennio Morricone, this is yet another treat for Sergio Leone fans, although most fans have surely seen the trilogy numerous times by now.
Where things fall down ever so slightly is in the pacing and the characterisation. The movie packs a fair bit in but somehow still feels like it's dragging in a few places, cramming more in than is needed and lacking that energetic economy that suffused the first movie. It also sacrifices any drama/tension for entertainment and, while this isn't always a bad thing here, it makes for a negative point as Eastwood and Van Cleef never seem in any real danger, especially during a finale that features some strange decisions by the main villain (Gian Maria Volonte, also returning, and also playing a different character than the one he played in the first film). It's also fair to say that the lead characters are so thinly sketched that it requires some real effort on the viewer's part to continue to identify with them, archetypes of the "Old West" as they pretend to be, but that's how Leone works. He shows the essence of a man by how he shoots, how he reacts under duress, and what code of conduct he decides to live by.
Still, nobody really does lively, entertaining, sun-scorched, cheroot-chewing Westerns like Leone and this is another classic for many fans of the genre.
Can you guess what instalment I am going to attempt to write about tomorrow?
I recommend buying this set.
Americans might want to try out this set.