14 September 2014

Review: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

(Dir: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller, 2014)

Some films just leave you begging for a sequel. Some films leave you begging for a sequel that you think will never happen. Sin City was just that film. The closest anyone has come to replicating a comic on screen, with every frame looking like the panels from the page explicitly brought to life. It’s a visual tour-de-force that manages to resurrect the hard-boiled noir of a bygone era and supplant it into a hellhole full of corrupt cops, hookers and hideous hard-men with hearts. Nothing quite like it has come along in the nine years since it was released and director Robert Rodriguez long teased it would happen but continually failed to deliver. Suffice to say, the day Sin City: A Dame To Kill For arrived in cinemas, I was there for the first showing. 

Some films leave you a little disappointed when they don’t live up to their predecessor. The challenge for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For wasn’t a hard one – deliver more of the same and fans will be happy. It aims for that with gusto but manages to somewhat miss the mark. The distinctive visual style remains fully in place and watching the black and white, colour accented scenes unfurl on a big screen is a joy to behold. Thus the problem lies with the stories. Mickey Rourke’s Marv is a huge asset and his recurrence kicks the film off nicely, but none of these stories offer anything close to those in the original film. 

New character Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) offers the next most interesting story, probably because Gordon-Levitt is an actor perfectly suited to the noir style. Yet Josh Brolin, here reprising Clive Owen’s Dwight from the original, should work in this setting but struggles. Partly because the story is far weaker this time, but he lacks the electricity of how Owen played off both Benicio Del Toro and Rosario Dawson, and a lot of personality is lost in the process. It's a blunt imitation not aided by him having to work with Eva Green’s over-played and overly naked femme fatale (yes I’m complaining about a very attractive women being too continuously naked on screen). Whilst the less said about the new/continuing story with Jessica Alba’s Nancy the better, as it proves having the focus on Bruce Willis' Haritgan last time is what really made it so engrossing.

It's unfortunate that Sin City: A Dame To Kill For becomes a somewhat tiresome watch as none of these new stories offer the punch or intrigue of the original film and you quickly end up wishing it was that that you were watching instead. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just... lacking. Stunning visuals aside, having nine years to get everything right, rich source material to hand and the involvement of its creator, makes you wonder what got lost in translation. Some films leave you wishing you hadn’t built up a certain level of anticipation.

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