Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Dollars Trilogy, Part II: For a Few Dollars More

For a Few Dollars More, the second entry in the "Dollars Trilogy", essentially one-ups it's predecessor,  A Fistful of Dollars in almost every way. It is clear that the sequel was granted a much bigger budget than Fistful. The set pieces are noticeably bigger, and we get a lot more triumphant explosions. Director Sergio Leone wittingly held onto Ennio Marricone, who managed to top himself and create another incredible score. There is not much else to say about the film, other than it has everything you could expect from watching the previous film, but overall more entertaining and satisfying. The script is much tighter and its characters show much more emotion and depth. It is arguable that the audience will have more investment in El Indio, the antagonist of the film than any other character. He is not as shallow of an evil character as Ramón, from the last film. Not to say that El Indio isn't a villainous bastard, because he is. He deserves everything he has coming to him, and more. The difference is I didn't feel like El Indio was mindlessly thrown into the script. When they get deeper into the film, he audience eventually gets a sense that he has actual emotions and thoughts, as opposed to Ramón, who killed people because, well, it's just so much fun being bad! He is also not an idiot, and is simply a worthy contender of the stranger, now known as "Manco". Manco is as intimidating and mysterious as we were first introduced to him in Fistful, and no one is complaining. To top it off, a third player is also thrown into the mix: hit man Colonel Douglas Mortimer, perplexingly played by Lee Van Cleef. Thanks to his deceiving eyes and menacing smile, it is never exactly clear for some time where his true allegiance lies: with "Manco", El Indio, or himself. I found myself constantly guessing at what he was going to do next.

When we are first getting comfortable with the assumption that this will be fairly similar to the previous film plot-wise, Sergio Leone turns the tables on us an we are suddenly sucked into a heist film. What makes the script particularly strong is the planning of the robbery. As I said, El Indio isn't brainless, and he proves it with the numerous steps and precautions he takes in being successful. If he is to pull it off, it will arguably be earned. Of course, Manco decides he will exploit the situation as much as possible. Only problem is, the Colonel wants in on it too. Being the lone wolf that Manco is, he is reluctant. It is only when he learns how deadly the Colonel is with a gun that he decides it is in his best interest to partner up, although no one is sure yet where the Colonel's true intentions lie. It is not only interesting to see Manco, the most deadly and mischievous gunner to yet be seen on film, to be by someone else, but to be outmatched by someone else who is possibly not antagonistic at all. In fact, it's almost upsetting. At the same time, it is realistic to understand that Manco can't possibly be the only badass in the West. It is only probable that he will cross paths with one eventually. It is also probable that the Colonel has exciting stories to tell himself, and how a spin-off trilogy of the character would hold up against the Dollars trilogy, if he ever decided to make one. But, as they say, we will have to accept the mystery.