Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
The Short- Nearly Ten years removed from the original, Sin City piles on the gore and nudity but has a distinct lack of the substance of the first film. It doesn't help that the timeline where this movie takes place to the original is unrecognizable. Characters who died in the first film are back, and a number of original cast members have been replaced, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is about 5 years too late and doesn’t have very much to add in the form of new material.
This review will contain spoilers to the original Sin City, if for some reason you are reading this before you watch either movie then read no further.
Sin City hit theaters hard in 2005 and a sequel has been 9 years in the making. I'm not saying waiting 9 years to make a sequel is a bad idea but when the film takes on 3 different stories that at some point come together it's difficult to allow the viewer to understand where this movie connects with the previous film. At the end of Sin City, Mickey Rourke’s practically iconic brawler Marv meets his demise. So it was sort of a shock to not only see Rourke return for the sequel but to have him in the whole film. It is sadly this problem that was the demise of Sin City A Dame to Kill For.
In the sequel to the wonderful 2005 noir we follow Dwight (Josh Brolin taking over for Clive Owen), Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) and Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as they traverse the back alleys and bars of Basin City. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller weave in and out of each characters story throughout the film, beginning with Johnny, a skilled gambler who enters into a dangerous game of poker with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), after cleaning Roarke out, Johnny is caught off guard when the corrupt politician begins to take his revenge for the embarrassment. The next story is Dwight, a PI who is having an on again off again fling with Ava (Eva Green and the titular Dame) who has the gruff Dwight wrapped around her finger thanks to claims to be in a violent, abusive marriage. There is a very little of Ms. Green that you do not see during this film’s 1 hour and 45 minute run time. She is naked in practically every scene she appears in and the sex scene(s) border on pornographic. Green’s performance is not as memorable as the filmmakers would have liked being that she goes in and out of an American accent throughout, and unlike her scene stealing performance in the 300 sequel from earlier this year she lacks that quality in her performance of really embodying a character. The third and final story in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is Nancy Callahan, the stripper played by Jessica Alba who is struggling with the death of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) who appears as a ghost a few times and his seeing him that drives Nancy to seek revenge on Senator Roark. Alba is forced to do a lot more in this film and she is incredibly campy but looking passed the camp you won't hear many people speak highly of her acting ability. She remains unconvincing as she begins to seek her revenge, it's never for even a moment a believable portrayal even in a ripped from the pages movie based on a graphic novel.
Sin City had a punch to it that was totally lacking from A Dame to Kill For, both films are beautiful to look at especially at times when horribly violent things are occurring but any attempt to add something new to the film was somehow taken away. Instead the same beautiful effects and shots from the original are there to stay. The 9 year wait may have originally been seen as a tool to make a similar movie with a new cast and stories but it's a deterrent that had me begging for something new and only getting the same old stuff. The one thing these films have done very well is never stray too far from the source material, keeping all the R rated things in the film was a big step in that direction but keeping the dialogue campy will annoy people who have never opened a Sin City graphic novel but they do bring that comic flair to the film.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is too little, too late, a sequel to a wonderfully entertaining film that just feels like old news. Nothing is as impressive or as fun in A Dame to Kill For and the added effect of more violence and more nudity comes off as forcing the issue. In Sin City everything felt a little more organic, like the beautiful effects and action sequences were not thrown it but occurred as part of the story. A Dame to Kill For has all the dirt and grime of the first film but is never worth the watch. It's never a good sign when the most memorable part of sitting in the theater to see this movie was the teaser trailer for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.