05 September 2014

"This Rotten Town, It Soils Everybody"

When Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City came out nearly a decade ago, I was the only girl among my group of university friends who went to see it. It was violent, sure, but the violence is so stylised, and, in any case, I will watch pretty much anything that stars Clive Owen. I don't remember much more about the movie, but I gave it a 9/10 rating on IMDb so I must have enjoyed it. Sadly, the long-awaited sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, didn't quite live up to the high standards of its predecessor, mainly because the characters were making the same old mistakes and the plot didn't really go anywhere. Also, there was no Clive Owen: his character Dwight was portrayed by Josh Brolin instead, as Owen was too busy filming The Knick.

Two of the anti-heroes from the first film — Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Dwight (Brolin) — are joined by a third, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Johnny, for the sequel, but they don't share much screen time as they roam the streets of Sin City, getting into fights, delivering their own versions of justice, lusting after their favourite dame. Marv still has a thing for Nancy (Jessica Alba), while Dwight is pursuing the beautiful but manipulative Ava (Eva Green), who seems to care little for her husband who she says beats her. Meanwhile, Johnny has some serious daddy issues — the illegitimate son of Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), Johnny decides the best way to win the approval of his father is to beat him at poker. He succeeds, winning poker-chips piled high like the Sin City skyscrapers, but then soon wishes he hadn't as Roark's goons send him into a world of pain and regret.

The film flicks between these three stories. Sometimes, they intersect. Neither Marv nor Dwight seems to grow or to learn from the previous film, but at least new characters Johnny and Ava add some interest to the story. Ava, it turns out, is the eponymous dame: a real belle dame sans merci if ever there was one. Eva Green is playing the role she does best: the stunning beauty, who drips with honey and then, seconds later, spits bile. Ava has a killer instinct and is the opposite of a damsel in distress, as most of the male characters learn to their cost.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is as visually striking as the first film and has some great performances, especially from Green and Gordon-Levitt. It's violent and OTT, but that's kind of the point. It's also quite funny in places, and nice to see the kick-ass Old Town girls kicking the asses of the many heart-broken dudes who populate the film. All of this adds up to nothing very substantial. Although the real protagonist is Sin City itself, there are too many characters for us to be able to connect very well with any of them. You almost wonder why they brought back Marv and Dwight at all. It is a perfectly adequate movie, but nine years after the first Sin City was released, I'm just not sure I know why they bothered.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous18:32

    I admit, that the movies don't bring out the fact that 'A Dame to Kill for' takes place before 'The Big Fat Kill' too clearly. But if you pay close attention, you'd notice that in the course of the events in 'A Dame to Kill for' Dwight gets injured quite a bit. Therefore he has to get operated on by the girls in Old Town. Later in the movie when they storm Ava's mansion, the creators decided to go with a different hair style and make-up for Josh Brolin instead of bringing back Clive Owen in order to not confuse the audience rather than Owen being too busy, I suppose. Furthermore, in 'The Big Fat Kill' it Dwight is referred to as almost not being recognized by other characters because of his 'new face'.