Review: Sin City A Dame to Kill For
PLOT: In the sequel to 2005’s SIN CITY, we once again witness trouble aplenty for the unfortunate souls that populate this crooked and dangerous little place on the map.
REVIEW: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are back to serve up a slice of violence and sex in SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. In this sequel to the 2005 original, the graphic novel comes to life with four stories tied together to take us deep into this dark and dank place. The denizens of this seedy place include killers, con-men, prostitutes and some of the deadliest people you don’t want to meet in real life. A few of the familiar faces return including the character of Dwight McCarthy (this time played by Josh Brolin), Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) to name a few. The question is with a near ten year wait, is Sin City worth checking into once again?
Played out somewhat as a prequel to the original film, A DAME TO KILL FOR is separated by four slightly interlocking stories which begin with Marv attempting to remember a particularly brutal night of bloodshed in “Just Another Saturday Night.” We meet a young gambler (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who plays a deadly game with Senator Roark (Boothe) in “The Long, Bad Night.” And Dwight – with a little facelift from Clive Owen’s visage – revisits a troubled woman from his past in Ava Lord (Eva Green). She is the stunner of a dame who may lead to his downfall in “A Dame to Kill For.” And finally in “Nancy’s Last Dance”, Nancy (Alba) deals with the loss of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) as she attempts to avenge his untimely demise.
Of course, there are a number of other citizens that happen to be a part of these stories including a fun segment with Ray Liotta as a not so faithful husband and Dennis Haysbert as a seemingly unstoppable bodyguard to Ava Lord. With all the new faces, the graphic novel still rings true in many ways to the original film. Yet all too often, it fails to live up the macabre thrills of the first.
In this new take, the transition between each segment seems flimsy at best – unlike the first. In one of the new stories created for the film – not from the graphic novels – Gordon-Levitt as the gambler taking on more than he can handle with Roark is bit of a bore. It is the weakest entry of the four. Aside from the connection to Roark, this wasn’t nearly as effective as some of the other elements on display. However, it is entertaining to watch Boothe once again chew the hell out the scenery with his vicious character. In the second new narrative, Jessica Alba gets to stretch her acting muscles a bit. Haunted by the ghost of Hartigan, she plots revenge against Roark – with Marv showing up to give some support to his favorite stripper. This entire section felt a bit redundant without really raising the stakes in any way. The adapted storylines were much more involving than the new entries.
In this year’s 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, Eva Green showed up and made the film far better than it should have been. Well once again, every time this sultry femme fatale was on-screen, A DAME TO KILL FOR was worth the price of admission. When Ava Lord shows up to convince Dwight that she desperately needs his help, you know he is in for trouble. The actress can play the demure and frightened woman-in-distress, and within the blink of an eye she becomes a bit of a man-eater, ready for the attack. Both Green and Brolin share some serious on-screen chemistry that is nearly as good as the original, if not better. And of course the actress has not a single issue about nudity so if that is what you are looking for, you will get it here. In 3D no less!
Visually speaking, technology has been kind to the world of SIN CITY. This is a beautiful flick that jumps off the screen. Shot in 3D and against a green screen, the seedy world of SIN CITY is still very compelling, even if the story and script is not always pulling you in. Equal to and possibly improving upon the original, this is a slick and well-crafted flick that manages to bring Miller’s novels to life. The use of color for select characters continues to be a nice touch as well. From the make-up effects to the costumes – or lack thereof – this is cinematically an impressively realized world of corruption and comeuppance.
As a whole and complete anthology, A DAME TO KILL FOR falls short of the first. Many characters from the original are wasted including Wendy and Goldie (never enough Jaime King for my liking) and Gail (Rosario Dawson), although the latter has a little more to do alongside Dwight and Miho - this time played by Jamie Chung. Even still, once Brolin commands the screen and Green again proves to be a major movie star, you have yourself half of a worthy follow-up that will leave you breathless. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR may not live up to audiences’ expectations but it may be worth a matinee. This Dame might even be better than anticipated after a too long hiatus away from all the sinful and fiercely fun criminal behavior.