Sin City: A Dame To Kill For – Review

Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Eva Green
Release Date (US): 22nd August, 2014
Company: Dimension Films/Miramax Films

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For - Pic A

“Sin City’s where you go in with your eyes open, or you don’t come out at all.” – Johnny

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For continues to explore the dark and desperate lives of the inhabitants of Basin City. Re-uniting co-directors Robert Rodriguez (Machete) and Frank Miller (The Spirit), this prequel/sequel weaves several new tales into the complex narrative structure, originally set-up in 2004’s Sin City. Featuring a similarly talented ensemble cast, and even more brutal stylised violence, this neo-noir crime thriller is primarily based on the second book in Miller’s acclaimed comic-book series.

The Story

A Dame To Kill For attempts to replicate Sin City‘s twisting and complex narrative structure – at times to great effect. Watching the likes of Marv, Nancy and Dwight jump between one another’s stories is as fun as ever, adding further depth and cohesion to the fascinating mythos of Sin City. There’s a case that it may be a little too convoluted for its own good, but this kind of unique storytelling structure rarely fails to intrigue.

Where it suffers, however, is within the individual stories, which pale in comparison to the originals. The characters may remain but the magic is gone, as each story struggles to capture the raw energy and excitement of the first movie. Altogether, it feels thin and slightly repetitive – like a hollow shell of its predecessor. The new characters add a little spark, but there’s very little else that feels original about this piece.

The Acting

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For - Pic B

“Here we are pal. All of sudden this doesn’t look like the brightest idea you ever had, huh?” – Marv

As ever, Sin City‘s ensemble cast remains its greatest asset. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) is wonderfully entertaining as Marv, the violent thug with a heart of gold. Josh Brolin (Labor Day) steps into the other leading role as a pre-surgery Dwight. He conveys the character’s inner turmoil well – although he lacks Owen’s intensity. Eva Green (Casino Royale), meanwhile, is a revelation as the titular ‘Dame’ – sly, strong-willed and divine, she is the perfect femme-fatale – truly captivating her audience whenever she’s onscreen.

On the flip side, A Dame To Kill For‘s greatest crime is balancing the abundance of talent at its disposal. The criticism Jessica Alba (Spy Kids 4) has received so far for her portrayal of a broken and vengeful Nancy may be harsh, but her focus did deprive other, more fascinating, characters of screen-time. On the positive side Powers Boothe (24) turns in another fantastic villainous performance as, bouncing off well with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) – whose charismatic Johnny is another welcome new addition to the story.

Direction & Tone

This sequel is just as stylish, visceral and bold as the first movie. It’s beautiful to look at, and one of the most visually groundbreaking films of the year. Simply put, it’s ‘noir on acid’: combining a monochrome colour palette of blacks, greys and whites with vibrant splashes of red for blood. Where Rodriguez and Miller fail, is in adding substance to their mesmerising creation. Even the dark tone is compromised by often cartoony violence.

Stray Observations

  • If my 300: Rise Of An Empire review didn’t already convince you, Eva Green is a good enough reason alone to go and watch this film. She’s having one hell of a year.
  • A big talking point is the portrayal of women in these movies. On the one hand, they all tend to be strippers and sex objects, portrayed in a light that makes them very desirable. On the other, they’re some of the most powerful and strong-willed female characters being written in blockbuster action films today…
  • Then you realise that this film was written by Frank Miller and disregard everything I said above on account of his quite frankly loathsome attitude towards women.
  • “Looks like trouble.” – Nancy; “Looks like Christmas.” – Marv. Man I love Mickey Rourke in these movies!
  • If A Dame To Kill For‘s box office takings proved anything, it’s that nine years is far too long to wait to make a sequel to a financially semi-successful movie.

The Verdict

While it manages to capture the visual style and dark tone of its predecessor, A Dame To Kill For fails to tread any new ground, and ends up feeling a little repetitive. The acting is as great as ever though. Eva Green is truly captivating whenever she’s on-screen.

2.5 Stars

Result: “Okay”

About Minty

Here for a long time, not a good time.
This entry was posted in 2014, Action, Crime, Movie Reviews, Noir, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sin City: A Dame To Kill For – Review

  1. Pingback: My 2014 Complete Movie List: #30 – #21 | I See Movies

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