Review of 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'

2nd film in the 'Sin City' series

sin_city_2.jpg The original “Sin City” film from 2005 was an incredibly atmospheric and faithful adaption of the graphic novel by Frank Miller. The harsh black and white images with the occasional splash of colour was unique and the incredibly violent stories were, at least, imaginative and, shall we say, interesting? Gratuitous violence - both physical and sexual - was the name of the day in a modern retelling of the classic “film noir” tropes: Life hardened detective going after a sick, twisted criminal, a “dame in distress”, an ex-con framed for murder…these could all be pulled directly out of pulp fiction of the 1950s.

Sadly, in “Sin City 2” the best stories appear to have been taken and we are left with a couple of somewhat less interesting intertwined stories. As in Sin City Marv (a gratuitously chinned Mickey Rourke) finds himself on a highway surrounded by corpses but having no idea how he got there. He begins to recall that he came to the aid of a man being beaten by several affluent kids in a back alley. The back alley of a strip club where he worked as a bouncer. On another strand, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a gambler that never loses but ends up winning a lot of money from Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), a powerful man in the state who wrecks his terrible revenge on Johnny. Back at the salon, private detective Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) meets his former lover Ava (Eva Green) who asks him for forgiveness for leaving him to marry the wealthy Damian Lord (Marton Csokas). Having seduced Dwight, Ava convinces him that Damián is beating her so he solicits the help of Marv to attack Damian, but things are not always as they seem in Sin City…

Yeah, it is complicated but other than, tenuously, Marv there is no one here to root for. True, the same could be said for the original film but at least the stories there clearly defined who you should be sympathetic for and who was the bad guy but here there is little sympathy for anyone as everyone seems to stink to high heaven with the focus instead on ever increasing gratuitous violence and nudity as Ava is seen on the screen nude more often in seems out of her clothes rather than in them…The story is a bit of a mess, needlessly confusing and patronising to say the least. Do not expect to walk away feeling all of the story threads have been nicely tied together…but expect to scratch your head with a “huh”?

The film does still look quite interesting but it does make the mistake of showing a bit too much colour with some of the character's clothing in colour which immediately draws our attention away from the story. The original used colour only extremely sparingly, mostly in the colour of blood but here it pops up everywhere and somewhat diminishes the impact of the black and white of everything else. The first film borrowed heavily from the graphic novel but this sequel attempts to go it's own way but lacks many of the iconic scenes from the novel that were faithfully recreated in the first film, here the attempt to create new such scenes never really works - Those interesting scenes were all, it seems, used up in the original with only a few sloppy seconds left for the sequel.

Being a sequel there are some interesting cameos such as a drug-addled brutal street physician Mort played by Christopher Lloyd and cheating husband Joey played by Ray Liotta. Returning as Marv Mickey Rourke is a brutal thug but manages to still exude a modicum of humanity that makes him, at least partly, deserving of our sympathy though seeing him pound yet another person into yet another bloody pulp does wear after a while. Emotion is not part of the character so you might as well be watching a block of wood, the only difference here being the block moves his lips.

Yeah, not a fan of this ill-advised sequel. If you want your graphic novel noir stick to the original. If you want more of the same but with twice the confusion, yet more bloody, visceral violence, lots of female nudity, and nary a sight of anyone remotely “good”, “Sin City 2” is for you.

Rating: “Not great, but not the worse”

Review Date: 2020-10-18

Directed by: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

Studio: Aldamisa Entertainment

Year: 2014

Length: 102 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Robert Rodriguez: