Let me say right at the outset of this review…I wasn’t a huge fan of Sin City. It was visually arresting, but everything else made me mostly shrug my shoulders. Here with the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it’s more of the same, only with diminishing returns. Over a half decade late, this is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It’s lovely to look at, but incredibly dumb to listen to. Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, working again with comic book veteran turned collaborator Frank Miller, can’t capture the same sense of originality this time around, so you’re all the more cognizant of the script shortcomings. The direction is undeniably stylish, but it seems like a mask here. There are tons of returning faces (including Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis) along with plenty of new ones (such as Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Eva Green), but no one leaves much of a mark in the flick. It’s all about looks here with this movie, but a fairly dumb story and rather poor pacing makes the visual stimuli a far cry from enough for a recommendation. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is late on the scene as a sequel and just plain unsatisfying as a film on the whole.
Once again, we have a few hard boiled tales within the town of Basin City (cross out the “B” and the “A” and you get…wait for it…sin) that cross over with each other over the course of about two hours. Apparently, this is a cross between stories Miller put into comic book form and ones created directly for the big screen. We start with “Just Another Saturday Night”, which features Marv (Rourke) confused and trying to figure out how and why he just killed a bunch of college kids. Next comes “The Long Bad Night”, centered around a card player named Johnny (Gordon-Levitt) that arrives into town and seeks to take on the biggest fish in the pond, corrupt Senator Roark (Boothe). Things don’t go well for him. The other story here (which basically splits up the second one) is the title one, “A Dame to Kill For”, and details the struggle of Dwight (Brolin, who replaced Clive Owen) to stay away from the vixen Ava (Green). She’s looking to leave her husband Damian (Marton Csokas), which means that if Dwight again falls under her spell, he’ll have to deal with Manute (Dennis Haysbert, who is taking over for the late Michael Clarke Duncan). The stories obviously come together in different ways, with everyone having reason to want to murder someone else in the cast, but quite frankly, it’s often just plain boring.
The performances here range from decent to downright poor. The ones who fare the best in my eyes are Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, and Mickey Rourke. None of them are particularly impressive, but they handle their parts well enough, with Green doing the closest thing to praise-worthy work. JGL seems a bit out of place initially, but he settles in before too long. Next in line is Powers Boothe, who only sometimes chews the scenery, followed by the fairly one note Dennis Haysbert. Then, we have the forgettable folks like Marton Csokas, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Juno Temple, and Bruce Willis. The less said about Jessica Alba though, the better. If it seems like I don’t have much to say about the performances, it’s because they don’t give me much to talk about. Also in the cast we have the likes of Julia Garner (and many more), but it’s just more of the same. I wasn’t impressed by the acting the first time around, and it’s even a little bit worse here.
Robert Rodriguez is a hit or miss director, though teaming up with Frank Miller as co-writers/co-directors hasn’t exactly helped him mature as a filmmaker. The first Sin City had originality on its side, but here you can see just how overtly cheesy the dialogue is, how muddled the plot is, and how poorly paced the film is. Even the visuals don’t impress quite as much, since you know what to expect. By putting the movie in 3D, they’ve given something slightly new, but there’s no point to it besides the surcharge. This is a flick that revels in violence and extreme behavior, but it never does it in a way that you respond to. It winds up basically being a bore. The direction is just a repeat of last time and the writing thinks it’s more clever than it actually is. Each story has a twist of sorts, but you can see all of them coming a mile away.
You can’t argue that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t technically proficient, but it’s a pointless sequel that missed the opportunity to seem timely by almost a half decade. Fans of Miller and Rodriguez might find things to enjoy here, but I’m fairly certain that most of you will be disappointed. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is mediocre at best, and honestly kind of terrible at times. Unless you’re desperate for something stylish, you shouldn’t bother with this one.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!