"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"
Release Date: Aug. 22, 2014
Running Time: 102 minutes
What little good can be found in Sin City can only be found in the hearts of both the virtuous and the morally ambiguous men whose every action are informed by love or lust. In Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s 2005 adaptation of several tales from Miller’s Sin City graphic novel series, Mickey Rourke’s not-so-gentle giant Marv and Bruce Willis’ noble cop John Hartigan died for the women they held near and dear. Clive Owen’s Dwight McCarthy endured a world of pain to honor his girlfriend’s dignity and fight along the hookers of Old Town against a mobster who wanted to takeover their turf. In the belated Austin-shot prequel/sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Dwight, Marv and Hartigan return in new and adapted tales that occur before and after the events of Sin City. Dwight, now played by Josh Brolin, teams up with Marv in “A Dame to Kill For” to rescue Dwight’s ex-girlfriend Ava Lord from her supposedly abusive husband (Marton Csokas). In “Nancy’s Last Dance,” the stripper played by Jessica Alba plots to kill Senator Roark, the father of the rapist responsible for her childhood abduction and the eventual death of her protector, Hartigan. Roark, played by Powers Boothe, also comes under threat in “The Long Bad Night” when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s gambler Johnny endeavors to embarrass him at the poker table. Miller wrote “Nancy’s Last Dance” and “The Long Bad Night” for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The former serves as a disturbing continuation of Sin City’s “That Yellow Bastard,” with the ghost of Hartigan watching in distress as Nancy undergoes a physical and emotional transformation in order to summon up the courage to kill Roark. However unconvincing she is a stripper, Jessica Alba does add a toughness to Nancy that serves her well in her quest for vengeance. Bringing back Willis in ghostly form as Haritgan, though, doesn’t work. It’s a distraction to hear Willis pontificate on what we can see happening to Nancy right in front of us. “The Long Bad Night” seems superfluous—we don’t need further proof of Roark’s powerful grip on Sin City, and Miller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt fail to make Johnny an intriguing figure of mystery worthy of the city’s most notorious denizens. The events of “The Long Bad Night” do not play a factor in the other stories told in both Sin City and A Dame to Kill For. It’s possible Rodriguez and Miller plan to employ “The Long Bad Night” as a springboard for a possible Sin City threequel; if not, the pain and suffering Johnny endures will ultimately be met with a shrug. Taken from the second Sin City graphic novel, “A Dame to Kill For” emerges as this sequel’s most compelling story solely on the basis of Eva Green’s ability to twist any man she wants around her wedding ring finger. As Ava Lord, Green offers a master class in manipulation, and she’s so seductive that’s it’s understandable why any man in Sin City would kill for her. If anyone’s suited for the hard, violent worlds Miller creates, it’s the femme fatale-ish Green, who earlier this year demonstrated how a woman can wage war as well as any man could in the adaptation of Miller’s graphic novel 300: Rise of an Empire. She’s a devil in a blue dress in A Dame to Kill For. Josh Brolin is probably closer to the Dwight McCarthy of Miller’s graphic novels than Clive Owen—he’s all brawn and instinct, whereas you could see the wheels turning in Owen’s head. Owen did have a better grasp of the hardboiled dialogue that the residents of Sin City spit out like bullets from a gun; Brolin can’t bring the flattest of lines to life in the same way Owen did as Dwight or Mickey Rourke does as Marv. Rourke, of course, is the heart and soul of A Dame to Kill For, just as he was in Sin City. He remains very much a monster with a sensitive side. He still sees himself as a force of justice even though there are times when it’s obvious he kills because he is compelled to kill. Rourke seems to be the most at home in Sin City, a place that doesn’t feel as strange or as dangerous as it did when we first visited it in 2005. Part of this is inevitable. We already know the unforgiving world Marv calls home. Rodriguez and Miller doesn’t take us anywhere we had not been before in Sin City, and there isn’t a place in A Dame to Kill For that is as terrifying as The Farm from the previous film. This isn’t to say that A Dame to Kill For isn’t as impressive visually as its predecessor. It is another graphic novel that has come to life in glorious black and white, one that revels in the violence of place that resembles hell on earth and finds glory in the willingness of its corrupt antagonists to put their lives on the line for a seemingly worthy cause. At times, A Dame to Kill For doesn’t so much look like it was photographed but hand drawn to build a city that represents all that is wrong with humanity. While not quite the page-turner as Sin City, A Dame to Kill For still has it’s fair share of neo-noir moments to savor.
Aired: Aug. 21, 2014
Web site: http://sincity-2.com/