Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, is the sequel to the gritty, perverse, irreverent and occasionally funny Sin City, created by the iconic graphic novelist Frank Miller (300, The Spirit) and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Both movies live in the black-and-white, highly stylized, extremely violent oeuvre both Miller and Rodriguez are known for, but unlike it’s predecessor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is all about the style, with no room for story or substance.
Senator Rourke (Powers Boothe) returns as the ultimate bad-guy, but the role, which was the underpinning to the Hartigan (Bruce Willis)/Nancy (Jessica Alba) story that drove the first movie, is two-dimensional here. He is a bad guy because he is a bad guy–all sense that the power he holds has perverted his greatest strengths to his most horrible vices is gone. It is especially clear in his interactions with Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a story which seems to exist in the movie solely to show that (a) Gordon-Levitt looks very good in a tight suit and a smirk, and (b) that Rourke is a terrible person. Which we already knew.
A Dame To Kill For suffers from these issues through out. The main story–about Dwight (Josh Brolin here, Clive Owen in Sin City), and his one-true-love/femme fatale Ava Lord (Eva Green, playing the cat eyed, sullen, secretive part we’ve seen her do before, only this time with a LOT more nudity–seriously, we now know more about Green’s body then we ever really wanted to)–feels forced and falls flat of the deep, haunting, resonating love story between the doomed Hartigan and Nancy we saw in the first movie.
The subtle and clever interweaving of individual story and plot that made Sin City more than just a comic-book movie, and vaulted it into cult-status, is missing completely here. While there are multiple viewpoints and stories being told, including an intro by Marv (Mickey Rourke, unrecognizable in Elephant-man style make-up), each story stands by itself, touching against the others only by chance at Kadie’s Bar, where Alba’s Nancy performs a series of increasingly embarrassing strip-teases. Nancy is watched over by Marv (for some unknown reason), except when he is manipulated by one of the other characters to go off and get involved in murder and mayhem. This lack of coherence and depth, despite the solid performances by the entire cast, makes A Dame To Kill For merely all right–occasionally funny, and sometimes cringe-inducing, but never riveting.
The largely black-and-white film uses sharp, evocative jabs of color (red blood, green eyes, a sudden flash of strawberry blonde hair) as not-subtle-at-all indicators of characterization or an attempt-at-wry commentary (Ava’s eyes go green when her true character is revealed). Characters leap out of the black-and-white world of Miller’s Sin City, capturing the essence of the visual work extraordinarily well. We saw it 3D, which added nothing except a vague headache caused by the glasses.
Overall, the film is visually stunning, well acted, but unable to drive its story across numerous characters and plot lines.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is open at a theatre near you.
What do you think? Seen it? Won’t see it? Can’t hardly wait to see it? Watch the trailer below and let us know in the comments!
Geekscape Rates: 2.5/5 Stars