Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Juno Temple, Stacy Keach, Marton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia Garner, Jaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis
Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.
I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.
It could be that it’s just my age and that I’ve grown out of my appreciation for this world, only nostalgia keeping the older film so enjoyable. It could also be that the density of watching the first one shortly before the second one was just a bit too much. It could be that my constant wondering about the timeline kept me at a distance [it’s complicated]. Of course, it could also be that the pacing in this one just isn’t as good, that the stories aren’t as engaging. Whatever the reason – I felt that the film dragged for huge stretches, despite the fact that it isn’t actually all that long.
But that isn’t to say that there was nothing I enjoyed about it. Visually the film is as impressive as the first one. It looks great, black and white as much as the colors and I liked the moments where it got completely stylized. Did it need to be in 3D? No. But then barely a film does and at least with the black and white the darker colors didn’t really matter.
The cast was great, too. Eva Green shines in her role as the archetypical femme fatale (she usually does though she is used way too little in other roles). I also enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in particular, though the absolute scene stealer for me was Juno Temple. Her much too short appearance was the highlight of the film (though I do wonder whether it was intentional for the scene to be this funny. I mean, it was obvious that Juno Temple meant it that way, but since that didn’t actually fit the rest of the film, I wonder whether she smuggled that bit of comedy past Miller and Rodriguez).
But I still felt that for whatever reason the film didn’t quite reach the height of the first one, even if there is no easily pinpointed change in quality to it.