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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (director/writer: Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez; screenwriter: based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller; cinematographer: Robert Rodriguez; editor: Robert Rodriguez; music: Carl Thiel/Robert Rodriguez; cast: Mickey Rourke (Marv), Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan), Josh Brolin (Dwight McCarthy), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Bruce Willis (Hartigan), Eva Green (Ava Lord), Ray Liotta (Joey), Dennis Haysbert (Manute), Powers Boothe (Senator Roark), Lady Gaga (Bertha), Stacy Keach (Wallenquist), Juno Temple (Sally), Christopher Lloyd (Kroenig), Christopher Meloni (Mort), Jaime King (Wendy/Goldie), Jamie Chung (Miho), Jeremy Piven (Bob), Marton Csokas (Damien Lord), Julia Garner (Marcie); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Robert Rodriguez/Aaron Kaufman/Stephen L’Heureux/Sergei Bespalov/lexander Rodnyansky/Mark Manuel; Dimension Films; 2014)
“Doesn’t reach me with its mindless display of stylish violence and its misanthropic humor and clunky dialogue, but then again neither did the original.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Follow-up in 3-D to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s slick thriller “Frank Miller’s Sin City” (2005) doesn’t reach me with its mindless display of stylish violence and its misanthropic humor and clunky dialogue, but then again neither did the original. The novelty of the stunning graphic visualizations (its arty monochrome palettes) from the film released some nine years ago is gone and thereby co-directors and co-screenwriters Miller and Rodriguez lose their best asset of ‘shock and awe.’ The cartoonish violent noir-like film, in step with the troubling times, offers a beheading by knife.

Sin City 2 is based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller and is shamelessly comic book-lite as far as narrative, its crowd-pleasing onslaught of gore, its ugly characterizations of losers, its exploitative ass shaking strippers, and its many gratuitous bare-breasted shots. Having the same filmmakers from the original and mostly the same cast, and a derivative noir-style narration, will probably give the pretend artists what they want most–another mega-hit at the box office, unless this one goes over as overkill and viewers no longer consider its bloodbath scenes as good entertainment.

The weird action pic tells us four stories, but despite its monumental efforts to keep us awake it’s still a tedious watch and was so cold it left me not caring about anyone in it.

It opens with a prologue, that has the hulk-like fighter figure with the gravelly voice, known as Marv (Mickey Rourke), awakening from his black-out near the Sin City projects, with no memory of how he got there and soon beginning to recall things which serve to catch viewers up on what they may have missed from the previous film. Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the cop who saved Nancy from a rape when she was eleven and committed suicide, turns up as a ghost still looking out for the adult Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) as the stripper shakes her booty in a popular Sin City dive called Kadie’s Saloon. What’s new here story-wise is cocky gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who tells us over and over again he never loses, returns to his hometown of Sin City and in Kadie’s casino beats the maniacally evil local power-broker, a snarling Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), in a high-stakes poker game. The senator’s disfigured yellow-skinned insane son was the rapist shot dead in the balls by the now ghostly cop. After Roark loses big at poker to Johnny, the sore loser’s thugs grab Johnny before he can leave Sin City and cut off a few of his fingers and beat him silly to teach him a couple of lessons about how power rules. They also mutilate Johnny’s harmless good luck charm from the casino, the sweet stripper named Marcie (Julia Garner), just for effect. This leaves us following separate story lines of both Nancy and Johnny seeking to get revenge on the film’s main villain, Roark.

Eva Green plays the heartless femme fatale Ava, the sexy title character who is the dame to kill for. She suckers her former photographer lover Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), who can’t stop panting after the wicked lady and for that fault is tricked into killing her wealthy evil hubby (Marton Csokas) so she can inherit his vast wealth. Then Ava attempts to kill the sucker lover for believing her story and falling for such a witch. It’s difficult to get revenge on the lady because she is protected by loyal strongman killer Manute (Dennis Haysbert) and his army of security thugs, but you can bet your house that revenge is coming and the monster will get her comeuppance.

The screen is lit up with an ugly eye-gouging scene and all sorts of repulsive one-note scenes of mayhem, and it offers story telling at its nadir. The tasteless film left a bitter taste in my mouth, as the vengeful Nancy ends things with a smoking gun and by cynically telling us that in Sin City “Those it can’t corrupt, it soils.”


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”