Review Date: March 26, 2005
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Writer: Robert Rodriquez, Frank Miller
Producers: Elizabeth Avellan, Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Bruce Willis as Hartigan
Jessica Alba as Nancy
“I check the list. Rubber tiring. Gas. Saw. Gloves. Cuffs. Razor wire. Hatchet. Gladys. And my mitts.”
The film mixes the steamy romance of your old school film noirs, and their corresponding score, voice-over narration, shadows, fog and underlying mystery, with today’s wicked technology, black-and-white visuals painted with colors, rockin’ violent convulsions and action throughout, envelope-pushing comic gore and actors delivering some of the coolest, most memorable dialogue since Tarantino’s heyday. Yes, it’s all very comic-booky, but that’s what I loved about it! It actually looks like a comic book, specifically Frank Miller’s SIN CITY graphic novels, from which the stories are completely translated, so that every detail, every line, every exaggerated kill works because the environment is reproduced in such a believable way, that you’re just sitting there, turning the pages in your head, looking forward to the next part of the story. That said, I can certainly see how many people might not “get into” that comic book mode and flip the whole thing off like many did SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW last year (another movie that incorporated some entirely unique visuals which audiences apparently weren’t prepared to embrace), but if this film’s trailer or clips have excited you in any small way…I really don’t see how this entire 2-hour movie won’t tighten the balls around your pecker and make you want to kiss the filmmakers, for coming out with something that non-safety-net movie fans can enjoy in this new year.
“She doesn't quite chop his head off. She makes a Pez dispenser out of him.”
What else did I love about this movie? Let me count thee ways. I loved pretty much every single one of its characters, but most of all, Marv, played by Rourke as a slow, yet sympathetic man (he doesn’t hit girls), who just wants to get revenge on the people who snuffed out his woman, and who will literally go through anyone or anything, in order to do so. His story, which included an entirely unique villain played creepily by Elijah Wood, was as good as it gets, with my only complaint being that it actually had to end (oh, and did I mention that Carla Gugino prances around half-naked in this section and looks delicious while doing so?). In fact, it’s hard for the rest of the film to maintain that same momentum afterwards, so things do “slow down” to a certain extent after that, but the full-blown entertainment remains. The second story isn’t as charged, with Del Toro and Owen going man-a-mano in a section that includes plenty of tough-ass hookers (with hearts of gold, of course) and an even cooler (and silent) villain played by Devon Aoki, as a ninja-star throwing, sword-wielding, ass-kicking Manga chick with plenty of mustard and attitude. Lots of violence thrown into this section helps it go down easy, but the presence of the very awful Brittany Murphy almost sinks some of it, with her usual wide-eyed acting. The third section, starring Bruce Willis and the extremely photogenic Jessica Alba looking about as sexy as one can on film, is also very good, with a little less emphasis on violence (although there’s plenty of yellow blood to go around), but more on an actual “cute” loving relationship between the two, with the first scene in which Willis sees Alba in the strip joint, topping that chart. A bookworm, eh? I don’t think so!
“It's time to prove to your friends that you're worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people.”
There’s so much more about this film that I can discuss, but I honestly don’t want to write a novel here (too late, asshole). The bottom line is that the movie comes at a perfect time in the industry when Hollywood is about as stale as it’s been in the past few decades, so hopefully this vibrant piece of filmmaking will inspire others to snap out of their comas and attempt to deliver higher quality pictures to audiences around the world. If you’re squeamish in any way (decapitations around every corner in this town!), if you can’t get into gritty, comic book tales set in a dirty-dirty city in which the cops are dicks and the chicks are hot and carry guns, this might not be for you, but if eye-popping visuals, tremendous fun, delectable dialogue, ultra-cool characters and three engaging stories (oh, and plenty of laughter to boot), each of which doesn’t necessarily finish on a “happy note” sound like your sorta Friday night meal ticket, please check out this movie when it opens in theaters and bring some buddies or lady friends along for the ride. You won’t be disappointed. Note: I loved the “homage” to our very own Arrow in the Head (leave me alone, I like to dream) via one of the funniest sequences in the film. I won’t ruin it here, but look for it.
“There’s wrong and there’s wrong and then there’s this!”