SIN CITY A DAME TO KILL FOR
By Gary Murray
Starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and Josh Brolin
Written by Frank Miller and based on his graphic novels
Directed by Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller
Running time 102 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Matinee
The original Sin City was very much a box office surprise in 2005. The mostly black & white stylized flick of seedy characters and violence was just the kind of fan boy fodder that filled the theaters and sold on DVD. A few years have passed and now the gang is back with another installment of the Sin City universe with Sin City: A Dame to Kill for.
The film is basically three stories loosely tied together and inter-cut to a collective whole. The biggest narrative that takes up the bulk of the screenplay is of Dwight (Josh Brolin), a man obsessed with Ava (Eva Green). She is a femme fatale right out of the darkest of Film Noir, the kind of woman who is a chameleon. Eva becomes what every man wants but she is truly out only for herself. It is an epic manipulation.
To Dwight, Eva is the damsel in distress and he is the low-life man who wants to save her. But, just like in classic Film Noir, no one and nothing is exactly what it seems. Dwight gets Marv (Mickey Rourke) to help him in his plan. Marv is a monster of a man who lives to cause mayhem everywhere he goes. There is this tremendous sense of right and wrong in his warped psyche. As the screenplay twists and turns, it becomes morbid fun watching how it plays out. Definitely the best part of the film.
Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a very lucky gambler looking to make his big score. He gets into a poker game with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) an evil man who hates to lose. It is easily the weakest of the stories and the link that drags down the entire film.
The last leg of this motion picture is the tying element. Nancy (Jessica Alba) still pines for her savior and protector Hartigan (Bruce Willis). She still dances in the seedy club that all the other inhabitants of Sin City congregate. In her mind, she stills sees Hartigan and wants to revenge his killing. With the help of Gail (Rosario Dawson) and her killer gals, Nancy goes from wounded bird to wounding warrior in a few steps.
The film is directed by Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller, which may be its downfall. Frank Miller is the writer of the work and too ‘in love’ with his subject to be able to cut anything. Robert Rodriquez just released Boyhood and may have been too obsessed with that project to successfully be focused on any other bit of cinema. The film definitely needed another re-write of the screenplay.
Another problem with this Sin City is with the characters. Some characters that were killed in the first episode are alive and well in this version. One is never sure if this film is a prequel or a sequel. It seems as if it runs in some parallel world to the last film. For those who love the first film, this is a bit of a confusing element.
Perhaps the biggest problem is with the vignettes that make up the entire screenplay. The story arc of the scorned, manipulating woman is so brilliant that it dwarfs all the other stories. The film needed a different structure between the actual beats of the story. As it is presented, it is a very inconsistent product.
The film is presented in 3D but there is truly no reason for it. The entire noir concept works better as a flat screen motion picture. Yes, stuff does jump out but the extra expense is not worth the added cost.
With such a big cast, it is hard to deliver a stand-out performance but Eva Green does exactly that in the film. She is a perfect evil woman, a character type we have seen in such films as Double Indemnity (1944) to Body Heat (1981). This former Bond girl is making a solid career out of playing the heavy like she did in the 300 sequel. This is going to generate a much larger fan base for the actress.
As Marv, Mickey Rourke is all alpha-male and Id. He delivers justice much the same way that the Hulk does, with his fists. It is a growling, over-the-top performance that the material craves. Jessica Alba looks great but is not given much to do, other than slide around on a barren stage.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill for is very much a film for the fans and not much more. If you loved the first film, you will like this adventure. It is much more a cult film than the kind of film that will generate a large and wide fan base. It is much the same as it was before.