Review – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Poster for 2014 neo-noir sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 18
UK Release Date: 25th August 2014
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Writer: Frank Miller
Starring: Eva Green, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Lloyd, Ray Liotta, Bruce Willis
Synopsis: Intermingling tales of crime, corruption and murder paint a dark picture of a grubby, dystopian American city.

 

 

Few films are as unique as 2005’s neo-noir thriller Sin City, based on the Frank Miller comic book series. With its innovative style and bleakly unusual storytelling, it was a rare example of a film that took real risks. Nine years later, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For could not be a more different animal.

Brutish Marv (Mickey Rourke) joins forces with Dwight (Josh Brolin) to take on villainous seductress Ava (Eva Green) as she leaves a trail of broken and dead men in her wake. Meanwhile, Nancy (Jessica Alba) is targeting crooked politician Roark (Powers Boothe) to avenge the suicide of Hartigan (Bruce Willis), whose ghost watches over her. Cocksure gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) also has Roark in his sights.

Nine years is clearly too long to wait for a sequel. It took a lot of the shine off Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues last year and, in 2014, nine years has killed off the Sin City franchise. There’s just something crucial missing from A Dame to Kill For. It has no spark to bring it to life and no charismatic “it factor” to propel it to glory. It’s an empty shell.

The first movie did a great job of marrying noir conventions with modern visuals. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s direction was just as much of a character as any of the faces in front of the camera. Their sequel, though, can never quite escape the fact that, above all else, it’s pedestrian and dull.

| "Death is just like life in Sin City. It always wins."

Characters that were enthralling in the previous Sin City outing are now castrated by dull storylines. Mickey Rourke was a force of nature as Marv in the first film, but here his formerly razor sharp quips fail to draw blood. In a beefed up role, Jessica Alba also struggles as Nancy with poor writing and a rushed segment spoiling her character’s redemption.

That’s not to say that the new faces fare any better. Josh Brolin phones it in as a replacement for Clive Owen’s Dwight and Lady GaGa is relegated to a distracting cameo. Even Eva Green, who takes the title role, is relegated to nothing more than brandishing her breasts – a disservice to a performer who can genuinely use eroticism to tell a story, such as in the underrated Dark Shadows.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though, in the shape of the story involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s card player and Powers Boothe, returning as villainous politician Roark. Their verbal sparring is the film’s highlight, with the David and Goliath narrative providing the sort of thrust that is so lacking in the rest of the movie.

| "All of a sudden this doesn’t look like the brightest idea you ever had, huh? "

A Dame to Kill For also sacrifices the thing that elevated the first Sin City from a good movie to a great movie – the visuals. Whilst the same monochrome cinematography, with occasional rainbow flourishes, is present, the colours seem random rather than essential narrative cogs. None of this is helped by the fact that the film suffers from the most naff-looking 3D this side of Clash of the Titans.

There are things to like in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but there’s so much fat on the bone that the meat is all but forgotten. The movie is a turd, and no amount of stylistic polishing can save it.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

The first Sin City movie is a genuinely impressive modern classic. Its sequel will not be joining it on that pedestal.

A Dame to Kill For suffers from lazy performances, a piss-weak script and truly shoddy stereoscopy. Gordon-Levitt and Boothe try their best to turn things around, but the film never lives up to its enormous hype.

A threequel? Now that would be a sin.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is currently showing at Picturehouse Cinemas nationwide. Check your local listings for details.

3 thoughts on “Review – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

  • 04/09/2014 at 10:12
    Permalink

    Nice review! I agree with what you say about Jessica Alba’s weakly written segment. I like your highlighting of ‘the verbal sparring’, ‘David and Goliath’ relationship between Levitt and Boothe, too.

    I just don’t think sin City was ever meant to have a sequel. As it isn’t grounded within a clear time frame, it doesn’t make sense to ‘continue’ anything.

    However, we did guiltily enjoy being in Frank Miller’s world again, even if it was to revel in stylistic thrills…

    Please feel free to browse our reviews if you so choose! GOF

    Reply
    • 04/09/2014 at 11:16
      Permalink

      I agree. It almost feels like they felt duty bound to do a sequel, even though it clearly didn’t make sense creatively.

      Reply

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