Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) Review

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Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller, Sin City was a successful film back in 2005, some nine years ago. With Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and others, the film pleased fans of the comic books with its monochrome cinematography and dashes of vibrant colour, be if from blood, lipstick, the green creep villain or the blonde hair of Jaime Pressley. Sin City remains a favourite among comic book film fans, and the sequel has been spoken of even since the first film was released almost a decade ago. Being pushed back over and over again, with various cast members being rumoured at different times, it looked at one point like the sequel would never happen, but here we are in 2014 and “A Dame to Kill For” has finally been released, with Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez at the helm once more, and many of the original cast members returning. The only question is, after such anticipation has been built since the first film was released, can this live up to it, can this sequel improve on, or impress like the original did. Let’s see, shall we?

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The first film was based on the sixth book in the Sin City graphic novel series, but this time it’s a mixture, based both on the book “A Dame to Kill For” as well as two new original tales from Miller himself, just for the film. The original had a gritty script and a storyline that followed various characters that in some way touched one another during the movie’s proceedings. This time, it must be said that the screenplay is a weaker one and the delivery of the script, to me at least, felt like the characters copying themselves from the first film, almost as if they had forgotten how to play their characters from nine years ago. It was as if we were watching a new cast, when in actual fact, much of the time, we weren’t. Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis (slightly), Rosario Dawson, Jaime King and Powers Boothe return here, with Boothe being the strongest among the solid returning cast. Rourke, for me, is the main perpetrator of what I have just mentioned though, feeling like he was mimicking Marv, rather than becoming him again. The monochrome look of the film returns, with those splashes of bright colour, from blue jackets, orange flames and red splashes of blood lighting up the screen. It looks lovely, still, and the slick and enticing look of the first film is here too. I couldn’t help but feel, though, that the grit was missing, the colour splashes were much more prevalent, used in more or less every scene, and the story didn’t flow as well as the first.

We open the film with Marv (Rourke) beating the living hell out of a group of hoodlums, and we are back in Sin City. The debauchery, the onslaught, the treachery, the streets lined with violence, sex and crime, where anyone will kill anyone else for a dollar, and a dame. Basically, much-like the first film, this one follows various characters as they seek revenge and try to survive on the mean streets. Nancy (Alba) is seeking revenge against Senator Rourke (Boothe) for his hand in the death of her true-love, Hartigan (Willis) in the first flick. Marv is fighting the system, and looking out for Nancy, while also giving a helping hand to Dwight (Josh Brolin) who is having problems with the “dame” that the title speaks of, Ava, played brilliantly by Eva Green. Green, and Boothe, steal the film with their performances, and I enjoyed them each time they were on screen. Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt) appears to be out to prove himself as he gambles, and gets the upper hand, against the Senator, upsetting him and causing him to be a hunted man. Along with smaller side-stories, it’s much of the same that we are used to from the first flick, with lots of violence, fight-sequences, monologue-type dialogue, and nudity.

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I might sound like I’m ragging on the film a bit, and I guess I am, but I still had fun with it, it still felt a lot like the original one, and there were times when the brilliance of the 2005 film shone through, and some of the effects used looked absolutely fantastic. It’s also impossible to argue with the casting too, there are so many top-level actors here, and many of them deliver. Along with those I’ve already named, you have others, such as Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven and Christopher Lloyd. It’s a truly impressive line-up, but it’s a shame that, for me, it didn’t live up the hype and anticipation that was put in place nine years ago when the sequel was first mentioned.

I had fun though, there are some scenes that really made me think “well damn, that was cool”, and there were some parts that equalled the quality of its predecessor too. I’m not sure how likely we are to see a third one though. The road is open for it to happen, but I don’t know if there will be a call for it. In my view, this is worth watching, but don’t expect the first film again, because you will be disappointed. It’s a slice (and dice) of entertainment though, that could be labelled, at times, as style over substance, but regardless of its flaws it is still a film that has plenty to offer, and one I will return to again at some point.

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