Before the comic book movie boom of 2008 (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight), Sin City was there in 2005, offering viewers a cutting edge experience. Striking visuals and gritty storytelling made the original movie stand out from the pack in a bold way.
Now, nine years later, the sequel is finally here. Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are back for the second movie, with much of the original cast reprising their roles including Jessica Alba as nice girl stripper Nancy, Bruce Willis as Detective John Hartigan, Rosario Dawson as leader of the Old Town prostitutes Gail, Mickey Rourke and Jaime King. Josh Brolin replaces Clive Owen in the role of Dwight and Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins as a brand new character, Johnny, a high stakes gambler.
What we love:
Still Looking Good: If you liked the aesthetic of the original, you’d be happy to know that nothing’s really changed on that front. It’s just the same as you remember it, black, white, sleek and full of noir style goodness. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, or so they say. The black and white, almost comic strip-like visual approach fits the noir material perfectly.
Colourful Acting: Performances wise, Eva Green stands up for her portrayal of Ava Lord. She goes all the way in this movie (quite literally as she’s almost naked the whole time), her gravelly purr conveys her exaggerated deviousness, which steals the show in every scene that she appears in. Meanwhile, Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of the bumbling and irreverent Marv again, delightful as he is maybe the only character with any sense of humour in the whole thing, yet he always retains his sense of threat as a bloodthirsty killing machine.
Not so cool:
Timeline Issues?: While both movies are essentially both collections of a bunch of short stories, the sequel is much more focused on the story of “A Dame To Kill For”. In it, Brolin’s Dwight encounters his conniving ex-lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green). Here, something weird becomes instantly noticeable. This story seems to take place before Dwight’s story in the original “Sin City”, but for every other plot line in the sequel, they take place after the events of the original. So, yes… there’s a weird disconnect.
Too Long: Secondly, the very nature of Frank Miller’s writing means that his stories need to be wrapped up rather quickly. This is pure straight up film noir, armed to the teeth with stories that’s filled with power, corruption, vengeance and femme fatales. There’s not a lot of interesting character exploration to be done here, so the amount of time that “A Dame To Kill For” actually takes up is kinda exhausting. The stern, cold “Batman voice” style narration doesn’t really help in spicing up this familiar affair either.
Pointless plots: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny is an interesting new character who gets to display some pretty cool card tricks but the arc of his character seems a little pointless, serving to embellish the cruelness of Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), which we all already knew of. Jessica Alba, never the strongest actress, anchors the last story, a continuation of “That Yellow Bastard” from the first one. Now haunted and grieving over the death of Willis’ Detective Hartigan… she seeks revenge on Roark. While that may seem the organic way to go in terms of the story, it also feels like they’ve needlessly reopened a story they wrapped up so nicely in the first movie.
And that just kinda sums up “Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For”. While there are a couple of cool performances and lots of violence for people who were into that, much of it feels pointless, like a laboured affair that slowly limps towards the finish line. While the original flick was a breath of fresh air with its slick visuals, violence and harsh storytelling… nine years on, it’s just a little too late. The air of surprise and style is gone. This one just feels exhausting.