Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Sin City - A Dame to Kill For - Eve Green, banned posterDirector: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

Writer: Frank Miller

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Jeremy Piven, Jamie Chung

Cert: 18

Running Time: 102 mins

Year: 2014


 

The lowdown: Nine years after the original adaptation of Frank Miller’s neo-noir graphic novels comes the long-awaited sequel, promising more monochrome mayhem. Mickey Rourke’s one-man army Marv and Jessica Alba’s sweet-hearted stripper Nancy return, joined by (amongst many others) Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Green as the titular dame. Expect balletic beheadings, ocular extractions and a plethora of perfect female flesh, but don’t expect anything new.

Sin City - A Dame to Kill For - Jessica Alba, Nancy, Bruce WillisSin City - A Dame to Kill For - Josh Brolin, Eva Green

The full verdict: When Sin City burst on to our eyeballs in 2005 it was a gritty, gruesome surprise. With striking visuals and technological tricks, it changed the way a comic could be translated to the screen. Though misogynistic and misanthropic, it was also stylish and sexy and most importantly, a bloody good ride.

With almost a decade gone, two of its original actors sadly deceased (Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan), copious cast changes and an all-grown-up CGI-savvy audience to impress – is the sequel worth the wait?

Just about. Fans of its predecessor can expect much more of the same but those late to the bash may marvel over the initial fuss.

Creator Frank Miller has penned two new segments to top and tail his dangerous dame: The Long Bad Night and Nancy’s Last Dance.

The former features Gordon-Levitt as cocky gambler Johnny, pitting his luck and his ligaments against Powers Boothe’s scenery chewing Senator. The usually dependable Gordon-Levitt doesn’t quite have the hard-boiled halitosis to deliver the goods here, although regurgitated dialogue and a scattershot plot don’t help. Only a creepy Christopher Lloyd cameo adds any colour.

The latter is a ‘both barrels’ vengeance tale boasting angry, ‘almost’ stripping from Alba and an egregious continuity error.

Familiarity with the original is not just advised here, it’s essential. There’s no ‘Previously on Sin City’ to remind you who’s dead or damaged and why. Miller plays around with his timelines to resurrect fan favourite Marv (Rourke, still a blast) and casts a gravelly Josh Brolin as private eye Dwight, the pre-surgery ‘before’ to Clive Owen’s ‘after’.

Sin City - A Dame to Kill For - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, coinSin City - A Dame to Kill For - Josh Brolin, Ray Liotta

Dennis Haysbert replaces Clarke Duncan as man-mountain Manute. Jeremy Piven takes over from Michael Madsen as corrupt cop Bob and Jamie Chung steps in for a pregnant Devon Akoi as deadly assassin Miho.

While there’s nothing wrong with these choices, the changes are yet another adjustment that stops you fully immersing yourself in the action.

Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach and Lady Gaga get their moment in the murk but (Liotta’s pounding posterior aside) they make little impact.

Unlike his leading lady.

Bernardo Bertolucci once described Eva Green as ‘so beautiful it’s indecent’. Those hoping for an eyeful of Eva’s indecent beauty will more than get their money’s worth. As femme fatale Ava Lord she’s all emerald eyes, vermillion lips and screen-scorching skin.

Her performance is a much needed shot in the arm and although she still conforms to Miller’s ‘Goddess, Warrior, Damsel, Bitch’ depiction of women, at least she’s allowed to have fun.

As expected the violence is every bit as brutal as before but there’s nothing here to rival cannibal Kevin or the sight of Benicio Del Toro’s flip-top noggin. 3D effects are used primarily to add depth, so there are no flying eyeballs or projectile splatter. With the exception of a few jet black jokes, this is a serious city we’ve returned to.

It’s still a cool place to visit, but two trips are enough.

Angela Britten