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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Written By: Frank Miller Directed By: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

The Short Version

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller follow up with more dark graphic novel mayhem.

Call it “DudeBro Noir.”

The visual style is as stunning as its characters are single-track.

Two words: Eva Green.

Leave civilization at the door, and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is something to look at.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Just stuff to absently snack on while distracted by other things.  I’m pretty sure that’s the approach to eating taken by everyone in this flick, anyway.

Pairs Well With...


Welcome to Kadie’s.

“I’m ambidextrous.”

There’s a clear line between “Noir” and “Nihilism,” and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For crosses it without a second thought.  Even the winners in this flick don’t get to go home happy.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For takes all of the seedy elements of the hardboiled pulp variety of traditional Noir into its bosom and leaves everything else – the wit, the snappy dialogue, the stuff that requires the front of the brain instead of the back – in a dark alley pile for some other storyteller to deal with as far away from this flick as possible.  Every word is a flat cliché; all of the real talking is done with bullets, blades, fists, and sex organs.  Every one-dimensional character is drawn from the menu of “corrupted husk,” “broken husk,” or “empty husk who doesn’t care either way,” with flavor choices of “punisher” and “victim.”  All of the men are thick-necked thugs or shifty shysters; the only women who aren’t somehow involved with the sex trade are a rich vamp who uses sex to get what she wants and a diner waitress whose sole reason for having a one-minute existence seems to be to revel in the irony of having the film’s only vaguely wholesome part played by Lady Gaga.  Every single moment of screen time is just an excuse for more violence and sex and nihilism and sex and violence, often mixed.

In case you haven’t clued in already, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is about as progressive as the Stone Age, and not nearly as thought provoking.  Call its approach to storytelling “DudeBro Noir.”

If the above descriptions make you want to vomit, then Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is absolutely not for you.

If you were a fan of the original Sin City and still want to give this one a go despite (or maybe even because of) the lowering of its brow, I’ve got an extra warning for you.  Along with being on the thinner side of hardboiled, the vignettes that make up Sin City: A Dame to Kill For play fast and loose with continuity.  (And no, I don’t mean the recast parts; all of those happened for sensible reasons.)  Some of the pieces in this flick take place before the events of the original Sin City, and some of them take place afterward, with internal continuity also being an open question. And if you’ve never seen Sin City before, at least one of the major vignettes in this film will have no context whatsoever.  (But then again, the advantage of flat one dimensionality is that it’s pretty easy to pick up on.  And we’ve already gone over the part about how the story hardly matters anyway; it’s just the violence and the sex and the shadows.)

But if, after all of that, you’re okay taking just your reptile brain out for a stroll in a world where all of the men are blunt instruments and all of the women are objects and everyone’s some kind of “path” – psycho, socio, etc. – and the only laughable things are the concepts of a multidimensional character or story, then there are some things to be said for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Accepting the movie for what it is, there’s no denying that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a stylistically impressive visual feast.  The combination of animation and live action really is outstanding to watch, realizing very well Robert Rodriguez’s desire to bring the panels of Frank Miller’s graphic novels to life.  Along with that brilliant merger, there’s the matter of color, which is used very judiciously here.  The overall look is monochrome, in keeping with the hardboiled setting, but splashes of color frequently appear as accents – green eyes, a blue coat, and lots and lots and lots of red, red blood.  And then there’s the matter of makeup; you will rarely see as outstanding a use of prosthetics as you will in this flick’s efforts to make its characters look like they stepped right off the page.  As a piece of visual art, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is high quality stuff.

Even though the dialogue they’re given to read is generally as flat as the characters they’re playing (there are maybe a hand’s worth of sharp lines in this script and that’s it), the majority of the cast members make a credible crack at doing everything possible to make the movie better than its screenplay.  Along with having one of the manliest names in Hollywood, Powers Boothe (Sudden Death) completely owns the corrupt Senator’s role, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises) is just as slick as you’d expect him to be.  And Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2)… with the amount of gusto he pours into the part, thick-necked Marv counts as a signature cornerstone for the career of Mickey Rourke.  (And I do appreciate how talented he is when I say that.)

But even Mickey Rourke and Marv are overshadowed by the film’s main event: the title “Dame to Kill For” played by Eva Green (Casino Royale).

The only time Sin City: A Dame to Kill For got anything approaching major buzz prior to its theatrical release was when the poster for Green’s character of Ava Lord (pictured up top, because you’d ask) was revealed and then immediately “banned” by the MPAA for being too sexually explicit.  (Some ban; I saw it in a theatre two weeks later.)  As it turns out, that poster’s got nothing on the actual print of the movie, and I’m saying this before we get what I assume will be an unrated cut on home video.  There is a stunning amount of full on Eva Green nudity in this flick; it feels as though she spends just as much time naked as dressed.  (Let’s be honest.  For many people, this alone will be worth the price of admission, especially in 3D formats.)  Green then kicks it up about six notches with her performance, which is now the new platinum standard for the one dimensional gold digging sexual vamp.  (I really mean that in a good way; she’s simply taking the part she’s been given and playing it to the best degree possible, which is to say, to the hilt.)  A triumph for feminism this ain’t, but I challenge anyone with a pulse to look away.  Yeah; thought so.

As noted before, pretty much everything about Sin City: A Dame to Kill For that isn’t sex – and too much that is – is violence, and if violent movies are your escape, this flick has you covered.  Arrows to the head, bloody ripped out eyeballs, broken fingers, hard punches, and a whole lot of bullets; this movie has all of that and more, in quantity.  Fans at the Roman Coliseum would have nothing to complain about here.

Whether or not you will… well, that depends on which part of your brain you want to bring to the movies, and how much polite society you’re willing to leave at the door.

Bottom line, if you and the front of your brain are looking for the depth and wit of Classic Noir to go with the shadows of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, you’re wasting your time.  All you’ll find is flat nihilism, thick-skulled thugs, misogyny, and clichéd excuses for story bits that exist only to provide a reason for the violence and the sex and the darkness to get some screen time.  But if you and your reptile brain are up for some DudeBro Noir with stunning visuals, lots of Eva Green, and some ass-whooping Mickey Rourke, then Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is certainly something to look at and not think too much about.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2014

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