Sin City 2

After the masterpiece that was the first Sin City, it was hard to imagine that even the original team of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller would be able to top it. And, unfortunately, they didn’t. Nope. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is not as cool as the first movie was. What it is, however, is a nice return to the Sin City world that presents us with three new stories, two of which blew me away. Read on for a more detailed report on what to expect from the movie. Warning! Some spoilers may leak through the cracks. If you’re worried about that, you might want to see the movie before you read a review.

Just like the original Sin City, A Dame to Kill For brings multiple narratives into one movie, relating a few different stories that cross paths at various points. The meat-and-bones of the movie, and the story from which it primarily derived its name, is Dwight’s story. You’ll remember him from the first movie as the guy that saved the hooker-infested Old Town, though you won’t recognize the face. As was spelled out in the first movie, Dwight’s had some major plastic surgery to avoid backlash from something he did. So in this movie we don’t get a return performance from Clive Owen, Josh Brolin instead taking over the role. And, in my opinion, Brolin delivers an even better performance than Owen did.

I am so jealous of Josh Brolin’s face right now.

Having fallen in love with a dangerous beauty named Ava (Eva Green), Dwight gets dragged into something despite knowing better. This leads him into a tangle of violence, betrayal, murder and a whole lot of sex (Eva Green boobs EVERYWHERE!). When Dwight can’t take on the bad guys by himself, he calls in backup in the form of Marv (Mickey Rourke). Marv’s always down for some violence, so it’s a no brainer that he’s there to help Dwight bust some heads.

The second main story follows Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He’s a man with an overabundance of luck when it comes to gambling. Unfortunately, he chooses to take on the most powerful man in the city, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). This part of A Dame to Kill For focuses more on the characters and the atmosphere than the blood and guts that we get from the rest of the film and is probably my favorite of the three arcs. JGL delivers a great performance and Boothe was just amazing. If they ever gave out awards for “Best Bad Guy in a Movie”, he would be top of the list this year. He shows up in another of the three stories as well, so we get a double dose of his exceptionally vicious acting skills.

This guy will fuck you up and then piss on your grandma’s grave just for fun.

The final story, and the one that acts as the end-caps for the entire movie, is one that revisits an unfinished storyline from the first movie. Nancy (Jessica Alba) is still looking for revenge against Senator Roark for the death of her former protector, Hartigan. And that need for revenge is sending her into a bit of a downward spiral. In a last desperate attempt to kill her enemy, she enlists Marv (Yup, Marv again. When you need some violence done, who ya gonna call?) and they head out, together, to murder some folks in traditional Sin City style. This one was by far my least favorite. It felt rushed and incomplete and although Alba and Boothe both do outstanding acting jobs, Willis and Rourke seem like they’re only there for the paycheck or to kill some time.

Dark-side Nancy is ready to kill.

Which leads me to my biggest beef with A Dame to Kill For – The story elements that connected it to the first film were the weakest parts of this new installment. All the previously unseen characters, settings and situations were brilliant and felt like they lived up to the high standard that the first movie set. But when it came to characters like Marv and Hartigan, they could have written them out or replaced them with new characters and it might have played better. Okay, so maybe not with Marv… we all love Marv way too much to see him written out. Maybe they could have offered Mickey Rourke a bigger paycheck or free lap dances at his favorite strip club to get his motivation up? All-in-all, nobody did a terrible job, but a lot of the original actors didn’t seem to care much.

The exceptions to that rule were definitely Boothe and Alba. Maybe it’s because they had their own story arc or maybe it’s because they really like working on the Sin City movies, but they both did remarkably well. Combined with Eve Green and Josh Brolin (and some cool little cameos from Ray Liotta and Christopher Lloyd), the acting side of Sin City was in good hands. Seriously, Eva Green left me feeling like I need to avoid women altogether in order to avoid the physical incarnation of evil.

All-in-all, this was a pretty damned good flick. If you’re going to sit around and compare it to the first movie while watching, then you might be disappointed. One of the appeals of the original Sin City was its original style. That load has already been blown, so what we get with A Dame to Kill For is another installment of serial-esque stories with a lot of the same characters and a lot of the same setting. Think of it as another episode in an ongoing TV show and you might just discover that you really enjoy the movie.

And that’s all I got. Go see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it’s worth the money.

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