“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” is the testosterone-laden sequel to the 2005 film, “Sin City.” Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novels, the movie is directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and written by Frank Miller. Many of the 2005 film’s characters and actors are back for “Dame.” However, if you don’t remember them, it matters not. It’s best just to absorb the film as given and not worry about what took place yesteryear.
Watching this film, two things come to mind. Miller likes his women young and nude and with the exception of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, prefers his men to be near the sunset of their middle-age years. So if you’re a male viewer, you are in luck, but for us ladies…not so much. That’s not to say that “Sin City: A Dame to Die For” isn’t entertaining, because it does hold one’s interest for most of the film. It has a fabulous score throughout, is beautifully shot, has some great dialogue and showcases many actors who can deliver Miller’s dialogue with style, chief among them Powers Boothe and Eva Green.
“Dame” opens with a beaten-up Marv (Mickey Rourke) struggling to recall what has happened to him. He vaguely remembers a fight and then the film goes slightly back in time where we see him “handling” some frat boys who gave him lip. Obviously they didn’t know with whom they were dealing because it doesn’t end well for them. From the scene with Marv, the film jumps around with different stories taking place. Sometimes the stories merge, but not in any meaningful way. Each comes to a semi-conclusion only to come around again and again until its respective story concludes. The one commonality for all of the characters is Kadie’s Saloon, a stripper club where much of the action takes place. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny takes on the corrupt, violent Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) in a slightly complicated, but entertaining game of wits. Josh Brolin’s private-eye Dwight performs some eye-popping work with Eve Green’s Ava and Dennis Haysbert‘s Manute. Christopher Meloni is fun to watch as the detective who falls for Ava, as is Jeremy Piven as the detective’s partner. In Kadie’s Saloon we encounter stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba), and her story, involving Senator Roark and Bruce Willis’ cop, Hartigan, is “Dame’s” saddest.
While it’s true that “Dame’s” acting won’t win any awards, the actors definitely capture the film’s spirit. Powers Boothe is always a hoot to watch in these types of parts and “Dame” is no exception. The manner in which the film shoots him works terrifically well. “Nashville’s” loss is “Dame’s” gain. Eva Green also gives her all and she is just perfect in the “noirish” role. Her first scene has her in a spectacular blue dress, which must have blown the budget on her costumes, because for the rest of the film she is usually nude. Jessica Alba is also very good as the struggling-to-keep it-together stripper. Josh Brolin and Mickey Rourke handle their manly roles quite nicely and newcomer to the group, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, more than holds his own with the old-timers. Rounding out the cast in other key roles are Ray Liotta, Stacy Keach, Christopher Lloyd, Rosario Dawson, Jude Ciccolella and Julia Garner.
Much of “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is narrated by the characters. Josh Brolin’s narration almost has a Shakespearean quality, it flows so beautifully. Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt don’t fare as well as their prose just doesn’t have the same lyrical quality.
As noted earlier, the cinematography, courtesy of Robert Rodriguez, is sheer perfection as is the score, also by Rodriguez and Carl Thiel. The cinematography captures the look and feel of the novels flawlessly. And the way the lighting captures the actors’ eyes is spectacular, with the music the icing on the film’s cake.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is not for everyone. There’s a lot of blood and very graphic deaths and torture, but if you’re a fan of Frank Miller’s work, you won’t be disappointed.