Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (18)

Back in 2005 we were treated to Frank Miller’s cinematic delight, Sin City. It explored the dark and miserable town of Basin City, known as Sin City, and told the story of three very different people, all caught up in violent corruption.

It flooded the audience with adrenaline-pumping stories of revenge and the realistically ruinous consequences of trying to be a hero.

I’m sorry to say that nine years have passed and the magic is all but faded. I merely yawned whilst boobs were flying at me faster than I could process them during the movie.

The sequel amplifies some of the original’s flaws and dampens all of the qualities that made it so special. Directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez expect the audience to both remember and forget details of the original.

Not even ten minutes in the plot becomes confusing, causing the viewer to do unnecessary mental gymnastics in an attempt to try and keep up. For starters Marv, played by the exceptionally talented Mickey Rourke, is alive.

The movie opens with Marv waking up amongst the dead bodies of young men. Due to Marv’s death in the previous film, you’re immediately led to believe you’re viewing a prequel. Supporting this notion is the fact that Marv’s deceased paramour, Goldie (Jamie King), is also alive.

It’s somewhat of a double-edged sword, without Marv the movie just wouldn’t be the same, but by including him the movie lacks clarity.

Despite the past timeline indicators, we’re told that Detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) has been dead long enough for Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) to become an alcoholic driven insane with grief. Weirdly, half of the previous movie has apparently already occurred, whilst the other half hasn’t and the directors haven’t taken the time to explain how or why.

The timeline issue is further exacerbated when Nancy and Marv team up to take down the powerful family that we assumed had Marv killed in the first film. This inconsistency could have easily been fixed by writing Nancy’s plotline in the past, but apparently putting in yet another revenge story was too delectable to pass up despite none of it making any sense.

The movie is pretty formulaic: Intersecting storylines- check, complicated trysts- check and gruesome fight scenes- check.

Johnny’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) storyline is the only one that escapes the repetitive plot and unsurprisingly it’s the most interesting to watch.

The other characters run around, breaking into mansions and killing people like it’s going out of fashion. We aren’t really given any motivation for the murders but instead led to believe that boredom breeds homicide. The result is that when they meet their bitter ends, you don’t shed a tear which isn’t surprising when you consider that you’re given no reason to take interest in them beside the fact that they exist on screen.

Clive Owen’s recasting also lessons the quality of the movie. I’m not saying he was anything less than mediocre in Sin City, but much like Marv and Nancy, the character of Dwight McCarthy was memorable specifically because of the actor who embodied him.

Miller and Rodriguez seem to be under the presumption that the mere utterance of the name “Dwight McCarthy” is enough for such an audience to make the connection between the character Owen played nine years ago and the one embodied by Josh Brolin in the new movie.

With no other clues as to Dwight’s significance or identity in the Sin City universe besides his name, Josh Brolin’s Dwight struts around this movie like a newbie. Dwight post-surgery in A Dame to Kill For looks exactly like Josh Brolin but with different hair (it’s parted in the middle now!).

Whilst the movie is riddled with faults, there are some redeeming features. Eva Green and Powers Boothe are perfectly cast villains. Green in particular delivers a devilishly magnetic performance that has the unfortunate side effect of making her scene-mate Josh Brolin’s shortcomings even more apparent.

The 3D although spectacular is only effective in the opening title sequence, and is a waste of time for the rest of the movie. Surely this extra dimension, coupled with the exceptional neo-noir style should have been this movie’s spectacular salvation?

The movie relies heavily on its original tricks of being so visually beautiful and busy that you won’t want to see any new tricks. It’s a shame that despite the nine year wait, Miller and Rodriguez didn’t take the time to craft any new skills to add to their impressive cinematic arsenal.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is surprisingly dull despite the sex and violence. Its disjointed storyline makes it more of an endurance test that a pleasurable experience.

By Ruth Walker

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