Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Hardboiled John Hartigan left us with these words in the first Sin City film: “An old man dies. A young woman lives. A fair trade. I love you, Nancy.” It seemed as though he was done for, but in Sin City nobody really dies. Nor do they really live. They are half-dead, hard-hearted and hell-bent on revenge… And we wouldn’t have them any other way.
Yep. Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is back. And so is Nancy (Jessica Alba). Shortly after her true love’s murder, and nine years after the first film’s release, the exotic dancer is still doing her thing and still worshipped by everyone of the male sex. Her closest confidant is brutish Marv (Mickey Rourke), and he will do anything to help her. Even if that means having to kill. Hell, especially if it means having to kill! Marv loves nothing better than cracking skulls.
Another dame to kill for is the barely dressed, always deceitful Ava (Eva Green). She’s got a few boys wrapped around her pretty little fingers, but none more rapt than Dwight (Josh Brolin). Their story is the centerpiece of this intertwined quartet of tales, all taking place (of course) in the eponymous Sin City.
Based on existing and new works by comic book ace Frank Miller, and co-directed by him and Robert Rodriguez, the long awaited Sin City: A Dame to Kill For does not disappoint. Presented in subtle 7D and mixing black and white with pops of color, the sequel remains true to its roots while blooming with new flair.
Part of that flair is due in no small part to Sin City’s new citizens: There’s the aforementioned Brolin and Green plus Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Lloyd, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach, Christopher Meloni, Lady Gaga, and Jeremy Piven.
Returnees Alba, Rourke and Willis are joined by Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Jude Ciccolella and Powers Boothe.
Boothe’s role as slithery-snake Senator Roark really sells the show in my favorite segment, “The Long Bad Night.” His foil is Gordon-Levitt as lucky gambler Johnny. Johnny sets out to beat Roark at cards. He does but winds up beaten himself… brutally. Dragging his broken body to a back alley doctor (Lloyd), Johnny gets himself fixed up and makes it his mission to beat Roark one more time.
In “The Big Fat Kill” Dwight fights his inner demons and struggles to maintain control over his sexual obsession with his former lover, Ava. But when she slips back into his shaky life, begging for help to escape her abusive husband, dupe Dwight can’t resist. He soon learns Ava’s true intentions are far more sinister, but by then he’s in too deep.
“Just Another Saturday Night” is Marv’s time to shine, and to me it’s the weakest tale (though that’s faint damnation, as the whole movie is really pretty great). The stories of love and hate culminate in “Nancy’s Last Dance,” in which Nancy, broken, alcoholic and with nothing to lose, goes after those who murdered the love of her life. Nancy goes for broke, giving the mission her all… and it’s all bloody.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is quite a gory and violent crime thriller, very over the top in its giddy brutality and gruesome (if stylized) gore. Horror fans should enjoy it for those aspects, but really Sin City has a zip code all its own. Hard to categorize and easy to watch, it’s a wild ride back into the nasty neighborhood.
4 out of 5