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Black and White and Redone All Over – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

August 22, 2014


  1. This sequel/prequel to the non-linear events of the first is split into four parts, with most of the time dedicated to the titular A Dame to Kill For arc. Taking on the role of Dwight, played by Clive Owen back in ’05, is Josh Brolin, who should by all rights be fantastic in this, with that face of his and that voice. (Why can’t he be Batman, Lord? Why?) Here’s the bad news: he just doesn’t fit in. Never for one moment does he feel at home in this universe, and Miller’s dialog, which is always hovering near dreadful, drops like lead out of his mouth. You never once buy into his deadly infatuation with his sultry, green-eyed femme fatale (Eva Green), nor does it help that he suffers more defenestrations in a 24 hour period than any human being ever has in any conceivable reality. (Not to mention his character getting plastic surgery to change his appearance and then looking EXACTLY LIKE HE DID BEFORE SAID SURGERY.) By the time Rosario Dawson and her feral chompers make an appearance at the head of her hooker army, you just want it to shift back to Marv. Is Marv still around? He is, right?
  2. Mickey Rourke returns as human tank Marv, killed in the first movie but thanks to the miracles of time and backstory still alive and kicking for this one. To the movie’s credit, every moment that he’s onscreen is great. Though it’s still baffling that Rourke looks more normal under eighty pounds of Marv makeup (giving him that distinctive Robert Z’Dar chin) than he does in real life (now there’s plastic surgery, Dwight), the character is fantastic. Miller’s dopey lines sound right coming out his mouth, and his odd, bare-knuckles brand of chivalry has an undeniable charm. It’s no surprise that he makes appearances in all the chapters, not only “Just Another Saturday Night,” the Marv-centric tale that opens the film. Rourke is just superb — a Marv to kill for.
  3. Jessica Alba as a scarred, crossbow-wielding stripper assassin is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, making her Sue Storm stylings a Meryl Streep performance by comparison. When you close your movie with all the narrative heft on her shoulders, you’re in trouble — Mariano Rivera she ain’t.
  4. The most deliciously evil character comes from the great Powers Boothe, whose Senator Roark has a lot more to do this time around. Is there an actor more adept at portraying a man with a dangerous amount of power, whether it be financial or political or both? Who can look at someone behind a screen of cigar smoke, squint menacingly, show a smile that’s all teeth and no mirth, and make you love him for it? Now that there’s no Yellow Bastard (though his face pops up a couple of times in amusing fashion), he’s unconstrained — his own individual malevolent entity. He figures heavily into both the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Alba chapters, and fortunately so, since he carries both as far as they go.
  5. Stacy Keach is in this. Stacy Keach! (Though it’s hard to tell if he’s under that rubber Wallenquist suit they stuffed him in, or if they just piped in his voice.)
  6. The great failing of this Sin City edition is that it’s nothing new. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. There’s still the visual panache, but we saw the same thing a decade ago. Yes, eyeglasses rendered white and opaque is still simple and striking, but it’s no fresh ground. The whole thing feels like a rehash, with maybe some more bare breasts this time and gratuitous, juicy gore. To be frank: I was bored.

As new and different as Sin City once was, A Dame to Kill For is nothing but an unnecessary trip back to the same well. It’s impossible to label a film with so much flair terrible, as your tickled eyes will always have something to behold. But there’s no there there — as there hasn’t been in Miller’s work for years. There’s only so much overwrought pulp you can digest before you feel like you’re about to explode. YMMV, as always. It seems that we’ve moved on, though. This (re)viewer has.

But thanks for the memories, Sin City. We’ll never forget, and we’re still living in your wake.

Two Marv cigarettes out of five.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 24, 2014 10:50 pm

    I read the whole comic series for Sin City and when I watched the movie yesterday I was slightly baffled by it. I enjoyed reading them all and thought that Rodriguez was going to go for the panel by panel story telling that happened last time, because I was expecting the same movie. However, I was thrown off by the gapping plot holes, the completely jacked timeline and the fact that the other two stories weren’t even in the books. Nothing wrong with diverging, but it caused a ton of problems I think. A Dame To Kill For is going to go down as one of those terrible movies that I like (I think we all have a list like that). Mostly because I like a lot of things related to film noir.

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