By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Fans of the first Sin City movie (including me) had to wait nine years for this film to finally hit theaters. Back in 2009 at the Shorts movie premiere at Austin’s Paramount Theater, I asked director Robert Rodriguez if we could expect a Sin City sequel any time soon. He mentioned that he had plans to finish the Machete movie first. After Machete, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Machete Kills, and starting the El Rey television network with a From Dusk Till Dawn series, Rodriguez and his Sin City partner Frank Miller have finally returned to the exciting, pulpy comic book world of booze, broads, and bullets. Choosing Miller’s story, A Dame To Kill For, as the movie’s centerpiece is a no-brainer, but is not enough to fill up a feature film slot. With an additional story from the comics and two new stories written for the movie, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is a wild and fun return to the seedy and corrupt town, but one not quite as compelling as our last visit.
To call this movie a sequel really is a misnomer because the stories in this installment all take place before The Big Fat Kill and The Hard Goodbye chapters of the first Sin City movie. Much like 300: Rise of an Empire, the events of this film take place before, during and after some of the events of its predecessor. The movie begins with a foggy headed Marv (Mickey Rourke) trying to piece together the memories of his rough and tumble Saturday night. The next chapter involves high stakes card game between cocky gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). The main chapter titled, A Dame To Kill For takes the audience into a past story of Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), a character audiences met in the first movie, but portrayed by actor Clive Owen. Dwight, a low rent photographer who has a huge weakness for his ex-girlfriend, Ava Lord (Eva Green), can’t resist getting involved in her personal life when she seeks his help from her abusive husband Damien. The last chapter of the film follows the events of That Yellow Bastard with exotic dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba) wanting revenge for the death of her savior John Hartigan (Bruce Willis).
This long awaited follow up maintains the cool, black and white, bare bones look of the first film, but is available for viewing in a 3D format. Even though the 3D version does have some cool effects, I saw no reason for the conversion. The original Sin City comics have simple and rough two dimensional drawings; therefore, I feel that Rodriguez and Miller should have kept it that way. As far as the stories are concerned, the centerpiece chapter is the best one of the movie, while the others lack power, punch and are just not as riveting as the stories from the previous film. The movie opens with a short intro story that has its fun moments, but really is pointless and ultimately wastes time. The one involving the card game called, The Long Bad Night, may be entertaining, suspenseful and engaging, but ultimately goes nowhere. Finally, the story called Nancy’s Last Dance, which serves as a sequel to That Yellow Bastard definitely has its entertaining moments, but lacks the necessary poignancy to make it satisfying.
I really enjoyed the actual Dame chapter, which features the film’s best performance by Eva Green. This role, for which Rodriguez originally wanted Angelina Jolie, is a perfect fit for Green who has proven herself perfect for sexy vixen characters. Her powerful and alluring screen presence, mixed with her gorgeous body and natural acting talent made me happy that Jolie was never available for this role. I think Jolie would have done well, but Green completely portrays the character, body and soul. I also enjoyed the performances of Brolin and Rourke. Brolin does well as a weaker and not so wise version of Dwight McCarthy, but doesn’t quite have that smooth coolness that Clive Owen brought to the character in the first movie. I also feel that Rodriguez’s makeup artist botched up the connection of Brolin’s Dwight to Owen’s Dwight.
Mickey Rourke once again is an absolute hoot to watch as Marv. His stakes are much lower in this film, as he is more of a supporting character, but Miller and Rodriguez do give him plenty of fun and exciting screen time. The film also features fine performances by Alba, Boothe, Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Haysbert, and several other fun appearances and cameos. The overall ensemble isn’t quite as impressive as the list of talents in the credits of the first film, but I have no major complaints with any of the actors in this movie.
As for the movie as a whole, it doesn’t impress quite as much as the first one does either. While some Sin City fans may consider Dame the best story of the entire comic series, the first film has all the other great stories. The other stories which serve as the bookends of this film just don’t quite live up to the infamy that Miller’s Sin City usually has to offer. I do recommend this as matinee or rental for fans of the first film, but because of the extreme violence and strong sexual content, I’d recommend that more sensitive movie viewers stay away.