Movie review: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ was worth the wait
“Sin City,” the groundbreaking, eye-popping, green screen-filled adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic books, was released in 2005. A sequel was announced almost immediately. It’s been a long time between that announcement and this new film, which is neither a prequel nor a sequel … or maybe it’s both a prequel and a sequel. That part doesn’t matter; what matters is that it was worth the wait.
It’s great being back in Basin City, with its bizarre characters and quease-inducing situations. It likely won’t be great for anyone who hasn’t seen the first film, as many references to it are made. And it’s a bad idea for anyone who did see the first one and was completely turned off by its unflinching celebration of unspeakable violence, because that factor is upped here by about tenfold.
Most of the characters are back, though a few are played by different actors. Not to worry, big Mickey Rourke returns as big-hearted, extremely dangerous, and often confused Marv; Powers Booth is slimier than ever as power-crazed Senator Roark; and Jessica Alba proves she still knows how to pole dance as Nancy. But Josh Brolin has taken over Clive Owen’s role as Dwight; Dennis Haysbert now has the late Michael Clarke Duncan’s part of golden-eyed, pain-inflicting Manute (and we learn, in gruesome detail, how that golden eye came to be); and Jamie Chung has replaced Devon Aoki as “deadly little” Miho.
There are new characters to meet, the two most intriguing among them being slick and cool Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who comes to town with intentions of winning at the casino, and Ava (Eva Green, an actress who seems to very much enjoy parading around naked), the green-eyed, crimson-lipped dame of the title.
Different stories come spinning out of this movie like tires in its high-speed car chases. Some of them stand alone, while others intertwine with each other. There are less rules in the telling of these stories than there are in lawless “Basin City.”
But there are certainly follow-through lines. For instance, like its predecessor, there is visual dazzle from frame one. The film is mostly in the starkest of black & white, with piercing spots of color that know just where to exist –such as Ava’s eyes and lips. Robert Rodriguez, who produced, directed, edited, photographed (and, hell, even wrote some of the music), makes the whites of people’s eyes glow brightly.
And while plenty of folks will be in the audience just because they like the look of the film, an equal number will be there for its audacity. That previously mentioned violence, much of it done with guns and swords and fists and (watch out!) pliers, is fast and brutal. Same goes for the presentation of sex. There are rugged fistfights, lots of backstabbing (both physical and emotional), decapitations galore, and a steady diet of people crashing through windows – sometimes of their own free will, sometimes because they’re thrown.