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'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' review: Black and white and bled all over

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For


"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" begins its theatrical run in 2D and 3D across the country starting today.

Mickey Rourke returns as Marv.
Mickey Rourke returns as Marv.Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company, used with permission.
The official one-sheet theatrical poster for "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."
The official one-sheet theatrical poster for "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company, used with permission.

It felt like a long, dragged out, bloody knuckle fight to get a sequel to "Sin City" made. Being delayed 10 months after its original release only made the eight year wait between films feel even longer, but the release of "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" has finally seen the light of day. The anticipation was high since the original film is a personal favorite for a faithful fan base. On the comment sheet I received at the screening for the film, I originally put that "A Dame to Kill For" is "nearly as good as the original film," but after letting it marinade deep within the crevices of my brain I realized that it is nowhere near as good as the first film and yet, in a way, that's perfectly acceptable.

Sequels always have their work cut out for them, especially if the original film is held in such high regard. The second (and any future) installments are often not as good as the first. However the main obstacle "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" fails to ever properly overcome is the never-ending sense of the sequel not going anywhere for 102 minutes.

Returning characters are shades of their formers selves. Marv (Mickey Rourke) has had every ounce of interest sucked out of him as his character is nothing more than a tool for both Dwight (Josh Brolin) and Nancy (Jessica Alba) as they use Marv for whatever goals they may have in Sin City. Nancy just drinks herself stupid four years after Hartigan's (Bruce Willis) death because she doesn't have it in her to kill the man responsible; Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). She counters that fear by cutting her hair, Frankensteining herself with a shard from a broken mirror, and some drunken dancing.

In case you're confused, Dwight was played by Clive Owen in the first film but is now played by Josh Brolin. The concept of how that's explained is farfetched even for a film that lives and breathes on being outrageous and violent. Bruce Willis is only around to remind everyone that he's dead and that he was in "The Sixth Sense" while any other returning character is really only around long enough to recognize before making way for the rest of the cast.

The newcomers are all cannon fodder. Eva Green plays Ava; a manipulative woman who lives to screw over Dwight and to get her way by using her body as a weapon. Green's character is similar to Artemisia in "300: Rise of an Empire" except she's naked for a hell of a lot longer. Dennis Haysbert replaces Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute and you'll hardly notice the difference. Christopher Meloni's Mort character arc mostly mirrors Hartigan's story from the first film.

Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is the most interesting new character "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" has to offer and yet the film pulls the rug out from under him right when his story seems to be taking off. Johnny's motives are questionable. Even after being pummeled to a pulp, he comes back for more and goes right back to playing poker with the wrong man. The character has an intriguing aspect to it, but in the big scheme of things is a total waste.

The timeline of the stories in the film are all over the place, as well. "Just Another Saturday Night" takes place right after the events of the first film while "The Long Bad Night" seems like it takes place sometime after the first film, as well. "A Dame to Kill For" is obviously before "The Big Fat Kill" but then concludes afterward and "Nancy's Last Dance" is four years after Hartigan's death. While it is decipherable the way the stories jump around in time may be confusing for some.

But even with all of its shortcomings there's still something enjoyable about "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." It could just be bias, but the striking visuals, outrageous violence, and the overflowing amount of absurdity is still entertaining in the best of ways. Even when the dialogue manages to be sharp or witty it seems as though Frank Miller just got lucky. You find yourself asking, "Did he really write that line on purpose?" Get in a knife fight in pitch black darkness and you're still bound to land a few blows despite your blindness.

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is like a really stiff drink; one that you try on a whim when you're feeling nostalgic. It doesn't go down smooth. In fact it burns all the way down, but it gives you a killer buzz and you enjoy that thrill while it lasts. But then you wake up hung over the next day. Light pounds against your brain like a jackhammer and every sound is like a wave of rolling thunder in your ear drums. You regret the night before and, in hindsight, wish it would've ended differently.

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find just about anything except for a completely fulfilling return there. Despite its dynamic visuals and overflowing amount of sex and violence, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is an exhausting pedal to the metal car chase that goes in circles, collides with a brick wall, and leaves the audience as they're thrust through the windshield and cuts to black before they hit the concrete. This sequel won't be for everyone, but it's decent filler before the big hitters step up to bat this fall.