Italian director Sergio Leone and actor Clint Eastwood sensed that they were up to something with A Fistful Of Dollars’ surprising success in Europe due to it’s raw realism, violence and cynical point of view, but it was obvious that the film still lacked a bit of originality due to the fact that Leone essentially ripped off the plot from Akira Kurosawa’s famed classic Yojimbo, so Leone and fellow screenwriter Luciano Vicenzoni started to work on a sequel and voila, For a Few Dollars More appeared. Vastly superior to its predecessor, For a Few Dollars More was of greater scope and depth and Leone’s style was rapidly evolving into a new level which would rewrite the whole formula for Westerns to come.Two bounty-hunters, a man with no name which goes by the nickname “Manco” (Clint Eastwood) and former Union officer Col. Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) are going after a notorious psychotic Mexican Bandit called “El Indio” (Gian Maria Volonte). The only problem is that they suddenly realize that they’re in each other’s way, so they team up in order to take Indio down; that is if they don’t kill each other first, or Indio kills them instead.
In this movie, Leone’s style pretty much comes full circle, and with a little bit more budget the film’s production values are a lot better cemented, and once again making the settings of Spain look just like if you were down there near the borders of the US and Mexico, the vision is completely believable. The violence in the movie is as rampant as it was in A Fistful of Dollars although certain scenes are still a bit cartoonish but the goods outweigh the bads this time, with Leone using his trademark close-ups, subjective POV shots and long takes, only that this time it has acquired a certain operatic tone as the dramatic buildup of every shootout is backed by the pulse-pounding music of Ennio Morricone.
Eastwood’s character remains just as cynical as he was in Fistful, and he greatly plays around with his low-key minimalist style approaching a “less is more” ideal but at the same time making his character more subtle. But greatly counterbalancing him are the two supporting players in Volonte’s Indio and Van Cleef’s Mortimer, whom share a dark past and fleshes out their motivations, especially Mortimer’s as you will find out while keep on watching the movie.A major improvement and a better sequel in almost every respect, For a Few Dollars More is grand entertainment and furthers out even more Leone’s and Eastwood’s revisionist view of the Western genre, but they would outdo themselves in their next release. 4-5