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Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City A Dame to Kill For poster


Directed by: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Written by: Frank Miller

Like its predecessor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is named for a single story from the eponymous comic, but is actually adapted from several. The film leads off with Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who never loses. He wins tons of money all over town but wants even more. His obsession with winning leads him to a high stakes poker game with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), the epitome of power corrupted. He easily beats the senator, who doesn’t take kindly to losing. He has his thugs make an example of Johnny. The next segment is the centerpiece, the part that’s actually based on Frank Miller’s story “A Dame to Kill For”. Dwight (Josh Brolin) thought he had seen the last of Ava (Eva Green) when she walks into the same bar he is in, and back into his life. She begs him to save her from her abusive husband when Manute (Dennis Haysbert), the gigantic manservant, comes to take her back home. Convinced that Ava’s life is in danger, Dwight enlists the help of Marv (Mickey Rourke), perhaps the baddest bad ass in Sin City, to aid him. It turns out that Ava was playing Dwight and nearly kills him. He flees to Old Town where he recovers under the watchful eye of Gail (Rosario Dawson). Once he has recuperated, he and Gail, along with Miho (Jamie Chung) go back to get revenge on Ava. Following this, we catch back up with Johnny who tries to get some revenge of his own. The final segment follows the dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba) as enters a downward spiral of self-destruction.  She has been lost since the death of Detective Hartigan (Bruce Willis), her guardian angel, and the only man she ever loved. Her depression and feeling of helplessness manifest in drinking, cutting her hair, and even cutting her own face. Marv notices these changes and offers to help. The duo go after the senator directly in a final bid for revenge.

Let’s not mince words here. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is just like the first Sin City film. It’s full of melodrama, over the top violence, revenge, hard ass characters, and is stylish as hell. However, if you’re going to see this movie, you probably already knew that. In fact, it’s probably exactly what you’re looking for, especially if you enjoyed the first film. While every aspect of the film is almost flawlessly executed, the material is not elevated in any way over the first movie; it just expands on what was already there.

Marv is ready for trouble.
Marv is ready for trouble.

You get more of Mickey Rourke’s Marv, a role it seems like he was born to play. Marv’s primary function in A Dame To Kill For seems to be primarily waiting around in a bar to help people who’ve made dangerous enemies that they want to get revenge on. There’s plenty of great descriptive noir dialogue. And man, is this movie good looking. It just wouldn’t work in full color; it needs to be in black and white. The liberal use of color throughout adds a little something extra, and I know it’s probably blasphemy, I really do think that the high contrast black and white works better on film than it did in the original comics. One thing that had me a little confused for a bit, though, was the fact that three of the four stories in this film take place before the original, while the story featuring Nancy going after Senator Roark obviously takes place after the events of the first film. It’s not that I can’t handle non-linear story telling, I just thought this movie was completely a sequel.

As with the first film, this one is co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Sin City creator Frank Miller. I can’t help but wonder how different the movies would have been without Miller having a direct influence over them. Rodriguez is more than capable as a film maker, but the sincerity and directness of the adaptation must have been much easier with Miller on board to keep things honest.

I read a rumor somewhere online that Rodriguez and Miller want to make a third Sin City film. It would probably be more of the same, just expanding on the stories and lives of the characters, but you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that.

Rating: 3.5/5

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