- Title: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
- Director: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
- Review: ★★★☆☆
When the original Sin City came out, there was nothing else like it. It was dark, gritty, and ultra stylized unlike any comic book adaptation before it. After nearly ten years, the sequel has finally hit theaters. A Dame To Kill For acts as both a prequel and sequel, however, with parts taking place before events from the first film, and some events taking place after. This allows us to be able to see fan favorite characters return once more, but makes it difficult to keep events from both in order. The film itself is a seesaw of good and bad, which just never brings anything better than what the first already gave us.
Similar to its predecessor, the film follows four separate narratives which all tie together with the mix of characters intertwining. The film opens with a short story featuring fan favorite character Marv, played once again by Mickey Rourke. Marv has forgotten his pills once again and cannot remember how to came to be on a road side cliff with two wrecked cars and two bodies.
Next, the story introduces us to Johnny, played by the incredibly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Johnny is an amazing gambler looking to play some high-stakes poker with the most powerful men of the city, including Senator Roark. By winning it all he gets in way over his head, but we come to find out that he has an ulterior motive for playing the game. This story actually bookends the title story of the film, A Dame To Kill For, beginning before it and then ending afterwards.
The third story brings us to the main title of the movie with A Dame To Kill For. It follows Dwight, now played by Josh Brolin, before his plastic surgery and adventure with Jackie Boy in the first film. An old flame from his past Ava, played by the electrifying Eva Green, has come to him for help before she fears she will be murdered. Initially hesitant, her charms reel him into a manipulative plot that nearly kills him.
The ending piece of the film is one created specifically for the film, a sequel to The Yellow Bastard. It finds Jessica Alba’s Nancy unsuccessfully trying to cope with the death of her protector and only man she ever loved, Hartigan. Becoming increasingly erratic and a heavy drinker, Nancy wants revenge on the man she blames, Senator Roark. Finding Marv ready to help in any way he can, the two set off on a bloody rampage to the end.
The actors all played there roles perfectly. Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba especially slip right back into their roles from the first, with both getting even more screen time than the first. As for some of the new additions, Joseph Gordon-Levitt could fill any role and make it his. He has the perfect charm to play Johnny the gambler and owns the role. Eva Green was the other stand out as she sizzles as Ava. She easily owns the scenes she is in. The returning, but replaced characters are a different bag. Dennis Haysbert as Manute works as a perfect stand in for the late Michael Clark Duncan. Fan favorite character Miho is now played by Jamie Chung, which again is hardly a noticeable change. Miho has no lines, only gory, brutal action which Chung delivers on in copious amounts. The biggest absence comes from Josh Brolin replacing Clive Owen as Dwight. Owen simply played the role better in the first compared to Brolin. It really did not help having Brolin still play Dwight after the plastic surgery as the prosthetics used look terrible on him, almost laughable even.
The action scenes are the stand out of the film once again. The black and white nature of the film still shows off an incredible amount of gore, just typically in white. Marv and Miho especially could each take on an army by themselves, and almost both do, in what are though sadly very similar scenes in two different stories. There are plenty of parts that will even make you want to wince and turn away if you have a weak stomach. That is what Sin City is about though.
The overall narrative structure was done better in the first. The transitions are almost non-existent and Nancy’s story is peppered in here and there until the end. The problem with the film really comes down to the stories themselves, though. None of the tales we find here are as interesting as the first. Johnny’s story was on the stronger side, but has an ending that just felt unsatisfying. The main story, A Dame To Kill For was not as strong as The Big Fat Kill from the first. The biggest problem was really its length. It easily eclipses the other stories time wise and I found myself wondering how much longer it could go on for before we get to the next segment. It taking such an incredible chunk of the film really cut into the other stories a little too much.
If you want lots of blood set in the with the stylized flair Sin City is known for, you’ll definitely get it. If you were hoping for this film to be better than the first after taking so many years, you’ll be disappointed. While they added a couple of impressive additions to the cast, without a stronger stories to use them in, they couldn’t lift the movie more than they did. It was still an enjoyable ride to take once more in this corrupt city, but they took the better material for the first leaving us with what we got here.