Starring: Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson
Almost 10 years after Frank Miller’s SIN CITY was unleashed unto movies goers, its sequel, A DAME TO KILL FOR, is finally here to continue the story of a dark city populated with the dregs of human society. In 2005, the first film changed a few things about the film landscape, and the way a movie based off a graphic novel could be produced. It blended animation with film and real actors, blurring the line between what was real and what was drawn. It’s sleek black and white aesthetic with hints of crimson blood and the odd colourfully drawn character was a visual treat for both general audiences and fans of the story because it kept the same look from the printed version. It was as if the comic book had finally come to life on the big screen. Mix in a dark jazzy soundtrack, lots of violence, murder, drinking and sex and you have a formula to create something completely new and entertaining. But now the question is, is 10 years later too late for a sequel, or does the SIN CITY franchise still hold relevance today?
Like its predecessor, A DAME TO KILL FOR is made up of multiple story lines with almost too many characters to keep track of. Sometimes the characters and stories overlap; other times it may just be a strip club where the inhabitants of the city’s lower levels convene for a drink or a game of poker that brings the characters together. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Johnny, a card shark with an incredible winning streak, who goes up against Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) in a game of poker that will set in motion the first story of revenge. The back room they happen to be playing in is Kadie’s, Sin City’s infamous strip club where an even more infamous stripper, Nancy (Jessica Alba), dances. Bent on avenging the death of the only man she ever loved (Bruce Willis as Hartigan), Nancy has been taking up target practice in her spare time. Luckily, she also has the protection of notorious badass Marv (Mickey Rourke), who has also been contacted by photographer Dwight (Josh Brolin), who is being seduced by the deadly Ava (Eva Green), a mysterious witch who has the power to control the men around her with her striking green eyes.
And that’s not even half of the story of SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR; it is just so complex with an abundance of characters and references to stories in the first film that it flat out get’s difficult to keep track of everyone and everything. However, they all have one motive behind them all: revenge. And there is plenty of sex, drinking and raspy voice-overs to satisfy many a noir fan. The only problem is that beyond the beautiful aesthetic and entertaining storyline, there isn’t much intelligence. It is what it is, and for a neo-noir, CHINATOWN it isn’t. Directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez get everything about the look and feel of a noir right – the rainy nights, the dark characters, the woman in trouble and corrupt politicians – but it is all very surface level. It takes the comic book adaptation and gives it a sophisticated treatment, but it is just popcorn entertainment in the end.
The performances by all the leads are actually incredibly impressive, especially by both Rourke and Boothe. To make another CHINATOWN reference here (because we are talking neo-noir, and CHINATOWN is the best non-noir, noir movie there is), John Huston’s performance as Noah Cross is both powerful and disturbing, and it seems that Boothe is channelling a bit of that performance here. Senator Roark is one evil character who displays the most spine-tingling abuse of power you’ll see this summer on screen, and that alone is reason enough to see this movie. Visually, SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is an extraordinary treat and even though the 3D doesn’t exactly have things flying off the screen, it adds a very impressive level of depth to something that would otherwise look incredibly flat. It is one film that you will probably want to see on the big screen to be able to soak up all it’s monochromatic glory.
A DAME TO KILL FOR gets right what the first SIN CITY got wrong; despite being somewhat difficult to follow at times, it pulls in its focus ultimately and creates for a better viewing experience. It keeps entertaining from the beginning to its very predictable and rather abrupt ending. This left me wondering; the characters got what they wanted, but now what? It felt as if they just ran out of story to tell, or perhaps plan on starting a third movie right where this one leaves us off. Either way, A DAME TO KILL FOR is stylish, mindless fun that completely draws us into a gloomy and immoral word for a short while and then releases us from the darkness, back into the real world just as we were. Despite not bringing anything new to the table, this is exactly what fans of the franchise will expect. This isn’t to say it’s bad by any means, because it isn’t. Just don’t expect anything new out of this one trick pony. Oh yeah, and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the eyeball scenes, they are pretty graphic.
How many sheep would you give Sin City: A Dame to Kill For?