Well, this series is now done. I can’t say I’m completely disappointed in it, but as a whole it’s very mixed. Odd entries are good and even entries are not. Now you know where I’m going since this one is number four. I will say that I enjoyed it a bit more than part two, but that isn’t saying much.
Starting off, we meet an older Chris, played by Lee Van Cleef. Chris is now a sheriff and I’ve completely lost track of who he really is since we now have three different actors playing his role and really at this point, this doesn’t even feel like a Magnificent Seven franchise. The only things that are recurring are that seven dudes led by Chris combine forces against a larger force to help some village in Mexico and half or more of them get killed in the process. That’s it. There is the Magnificent Seven formula boiled down to its essence. My biggest complaint of this entire series is that the formula is present in every single film. It’s like boiling Seven Samurai down each time until you’re just left with a sentence to describe the whole experience. It is sad to see how this was just hacked apart and stamped with a familiar name.
Anyway, Chris is now married; it was odd to see an older Van Cleef with an obviously younger bride. An old buddy comes around who begs for help, but Chris is a settled lawman now and not into the “gallivanting off to Mexico” gig anymore. As the story goes on, his new wife talks him into freeing an eighteen-year-old who had robbed a store. Turns out this was the spark to make the story go. This punk’s buddies, one of whom is a very young Gary Busey, talk him into another robbery that goes horrendously wrong. Chris gets shot and his wife is captured by Busey and co.
Now Chris is shot. He gets a sling on and starts to go after the kids who took his wife with a journalist who wanted to do a story on him. A short time later, they come across Chris’ wife, who was raped, murdered, and thrown under a bush. Its only obvious that he’s going to exact revenge and that in doing so he’d run into the whole Mag. Seven situation yet again. My whole thing with this is that as a grieving husband with a gunshot wound, I don’t think he’d be very clear-headed, yet he goes off and gets the drop on Busey and his buddies, then magically loses all gunshot problems and becomes invincible gunfighter guy. Things get a bit worse, too.
Women are treated as sex toys in this one. When Chris gets down to Mexico, he meets up with the friend that was trying to recruit him earlier. He leaves this guy and his group behind to track down the kid that helped murder his wife, who is now a member of the Mexican gang Chris’s buddy was going to fight. Gang finds his buddy and kills them all. Then goes to the town where all the women are. By the time Chris and the journalist get there, all the women, white chicks by the way – movie was too cheap to use the locals, I guess – were raped by the gang, who have since moved on to do some more pillaging elsewhere. They are coming back however, and one girl makes it a point to tell Chris she’d rather kill herself than deal with them again. Okay, we now have a cause for Chris to fight for. It’s not too bad yet. Just wait.
Chris goes back to the US to get some prisoners freed to form the new Seven. These guys are thieves and murderers, which seems perfect for rescuing women who were already battered and abused, right? So as the defense of the town unfolds, Chris has each guy pick several woman to do things for them, like reload their guns and cook their food. There was a statement about how far “do things for them” meant, meaning… well, you know. Here’s another huge issue I have with the story. I know it’s all old-school, but even for the 70s this just feels careless. These women are now widows because their men were killed by a gang that then came to assault them and now murderers and thugs are divvying them up like toys and the women are happy about it. By the time this gets done, one guy even jokes about being from Utah because he’s Mormon and hugs three women, who happily hug him back. Chris hooks up with a widow and everyone is happy. It just doesn’t feel that good to watch something as flippant as this. The ideas presented are pretty heavy, but this thing just glosses over all that to make the story go forward.
How was the action, though? I’d say this is about the third best one. I’d argue that part three rivals part one in a lot of ways and that part two is the worst of the bunch, so that kind of makes placing this one easy. Thankfully, it does have some decent action scenes to cover the poor handling of the heavy subject matter. The big fight for the town kind of reminded me of Seven Samurai in the way they formed the defenses.
To close this out, the movie just had some very strange ideas in it. In my opinion, this series just didn’t live up to the heroic ideals it should have. This one was particularly bad given the way it deals with its subject matter. Rating this one is difficult, but ultimately I’m just going to toss a 2/5 on it and walk away. The story was an absolute mess, the so-called Seven were just some dudes following Chris around, and the way losing a spouse and the brutalizing of women was handled was abysmal. I can’t say this was complete garbage, but it definitely was not the way I wanted to see a franchise called the Magnificent Seven go out.