Chris gathers one of the least memorable line-up of characters in "Guns." Keno with his "No questions" motto is straight out of prison. Interestingly enough, he dresses a lot like the Steve McQueen character in "The Magnificent Seven." Cassie has been fired from a mining company where he used dynamite blast holes in the mountain so that the miners could dig ore. Slater puts on a marksman's act at a carnival and calls himself "half-man, half-gun." Levi has already settled down with a wife and a family but needs a new well. P.J., the most enigmatic of the crew, is a consumptive who dresses in black like Yul Brynner's Chris. Finally, Max is a mealy-mouthed Mexican twenthysomething who doesn't know the first thing about fighting but is willing to learn. There are no moral degenerates like Warren Oates' Colbee or suicidal maniacs Claude Atkins's Frank in "Return of the Seven." Unfortunately, the death scenes for the four ill-fated gunfighters aren't as memorable as those in the first two "Seven" movies. Slater appears to throw his life away and Cassie dies without getting his gun out of his holster. P.J.'s death scene is no great shakes either. Only Monte Markham's Keno achieves some dramatic statue in his demise.
Chris' first scene in town where the people are going to hang Keno (Monte Markham of "Hour of the Gun") for stealing a man's horse is a visual delight and a dramatic triumph. Wendkos uses clever camera set-ups to anticipate which person that the horse will inevitably respond to. The introduction even before that scene of the evil prison warden, Colonel Diego (played with slimy urbanity by veteran heavy Michael Ansara) is powerful. A prisoner is dragged into the warden's presence and deposited at his booted feet. We don't see Ansara at first; all we see is his ominous shadow hovering over the prisoner. The off-kilter camera angles in the shoot-out between Slater and the loud-mouthed cowboy enhance the dramatic tension of the showdown. Wendkos stages each of the gun battles with verve. The scene where Whitmore hits the tower guard with a knife in the back and the peasant that he has trained hits the same guard in the chest is good, too. The explosion that destroys the gates of the Rat Hole is composed so that we see the violence of it sweep across the screen from left to right is visually invigorating. The showdown between Chris and Colonel Diego compares favorably with the Yul Brynner & Eli Wallach showdown in "The Magnificent Seven." The chief difference is that whereas the Wallach villain couldn't understand why a man like Chris came back to such a lowly village, Colonel Diego believes that Chris is an indifferent mercenary who has no passion for the revolution and will allow Diego to live. The outcome of the Chris & Diego showdown, however, was sealed during the human rights violation scene where Diego let his soldiers gallop their horses around the prison yard where the tongue-tied inmates had buried up to their chins in the ground.
"Guns of the Magnificent Seven" is a good western, not as good as the first two "Seven" movies, but definitely better than "The Magnificent Seven Ride!"