Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

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Stars: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis

Rated R for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use, Running time 102 minutes, Action/Crime

Compare to: Max Payne (2008), Gangster Squad (2013)

Nine years ago, directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller introduced Frank Miller’s neo-noir comic vision to the big screen with Sin City. Just a couple years down the road, Miller took on his own eerily similar-styled project with The Spirit. The two were so similar aesthetically, tonally, it could have easily been mistaken for a sequel.

Flash forward to 2014 and we finally have a sequel with Dame. Not that anybody was holding their breath. Nor should they have been. Dame has it’s bright moments shining through the grey tones but any problems apparent in the original weren’t polished up here.

In Basin City, aka “Sin City,” the sky is always grey and anything can happen. Usually anything that happens is bad but if you’re just a spectator, all is fair. And in Sin City, four stories are about to unfold featuring some familiar faces and some new ones. Hard-boiled, gritty, and violent are just a few ways to describe the setting and revenge is the theme. You can pretty much figure out the rest.

This actually sums up the film, believe it or not.

This actually sums up the film, believe it or not.

No really, you can figure out the rest. I get tired of typing “This one is exactly the same as the last one,” but it is what it is. Without crapping on it too much, I’ll set a couple things aside first.

Similar to the last film’s format, we’re given four short stories, one shorter than the others just to set the mood. In Dame, we’re given four stories, two from the original comics and two new ones. Not having read the comics, you may not care in the first place because they’ll all carry the same tone, style, blood and violent people doing things fitting to their character, notably Micky Rourke as Marv. Reprising his role from the first film as the brutish thug that never stops drinking or finding himself in do or die situations.

Like going to a saloon or getting the mail.

Getting the mail is an example of such a scenario.

The rest of the cast is well placed too, as it seems to give them all a chance to act our their most remorseless impressions of characters popularized by an era of film long gone. That, and to add something new to it as well.

The problem is that while certain action scenes and story points have the flash to keep you interested, the impact isn’t really there like it should be. There’s not a certain point Rodriguez and Miller lose you so much as it is random intervals. As I watched I found myself thinking that all this would matter more if the mood wasn’t taken from “Noir throwback” to “laughably cartoonish.”

Throw all this together that has the flavor of potential tapped, but only tapped. We’re rushed out of Sin City as soon as we’re rushed in. A tone like that for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is fine but for something like Dame, we should feel the grit of the concrete the characters’ head pummel into after a brutal beating from pissed off mobsters.

The words are narrated and stylish visuals presented to us make you think of what’s been described above, but the cramped undertone makes you feel like the creators want to shuffle you out of the theater in hopes you were dazed enough to only remember the positives.

Looking good, Johnny! Don't expect those looks to last.

Looking good, Johnny! Don’t expect those looks to last.

Positives: Good casting, unique world reminiscent of the Detective genre not often seen, Great ideas seen throughout with special effects to carry them through.

Negatives: The entire movie feels rushed, Some cheesy performances with unclear intentions, Any problems from the original weren’t improved upon.

Grade: C

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