Review – Talk About Your Femme Fatales! (“Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For”)

In a sequel that has elements of a prequel (???), writer Frank Miller revisits his old haunts by adding some new characters, bringing back some old friends from the first film, and then runs out of ideas somewhere in the middle.


*

We’re back in Basin City (aka Sin City) and there’s trouble afoot. Again. With three more interlocking tales, they all collide and/or cross each other at some point, and starting off is Marv (Mickey Rourke), who was supposedly killed off in the last movie. How’d he survive? Beats me. Anyway, he’s now a lonely barfly at Katie’s Saloon and protects Nancy (Jessica Alba), the hot go-go dancer who has turned into a sad alcoholic since her former love and protector, Lt. Hartigan (Bruce Willis in a brief cameo) committed suicide.

All Nancy wants is to do is blow away Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), the evil, twisted man whose evil, twisted son nearly killed her four years ago, but she lacks the courage. As the Senator plays poker right next door to her dressing room, in struts lucky gambler, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). This cocky kid plays fair and wins big, much to the consternation of the Senator. Big mistake! He’s promptly beaten up, fingers broken, and sent packing, but Johnny isn’t through with Roark yet. Another big mistake! Also in Katie’s is Dwight (Josh Brolin–replacing Clive Owen from the first movie), a hard-broiled private eye who cashes in on taking down a cheating husband (Ray Liotta). Soon Dwight gets a call from someone he’d rather not hear from; his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green). She desperately needs help to escape her abusive husband and his massive bodyguard, Manute (Dennis Haysbert–replacing Michael Clarke Duncan from the first movie). He reluctantly agrees, but things go bad quickly and Dwight must call on Marv’s massive strength to get the job done. Unfortunately, everything doesn’t go as planned and some nefarious shenanigans are in store for him and Marv.

After barely escaping with their lives, nearly dead Dwight holds up in prostitute-run Old Town where he meets his other ex-lover, Gail (Rosario Dawson) She agrees to nurse Dwight back to health so he can seek revenge later. Meanwhile, Nancy gets up enough courage to kill the Senator (with Marv’s help and his unique way of killing people) and confronts Roark at his farmhouse for the climax of the film.

In almost all sequels, you hear, “Eh, the first one was better!”, and boy, that’s so true here. It looks like Miller and reunited director Robert Rodriguez shot their load on the first film, because this one is sadly lacking all the fun, interesting story, and creativity that the original movie had in spades. Yes, you got the same innovative black and white film shot against a green screen and then computer enhanced with color splashes, and that’s fine. But while the first movie had a witty and terrific script with excellent choices in characters that were fleshed out, this one felt rushed with no heart. The script is practically dull and listless and the characters unlikable, with the exception of “The Long Bad Night’, which is Johnny’s story. THAT had a nice feel to it and reminiscent of the first film, thanks to

The rest was just brutal blood-letting, senseless over-the-top violence, and really cool looking vintage cars that, in the end, couldn’t lift this movie out of the doldrums. The stories had no flavor to them and, for the most part, were unacceptable. I’m a huge fan of the original Sin City and consider it a work of genius, but this is just a mess with only a few glimmering light streaks that echoed what I loved about the first movie. Go at your own risk, people.

SIN CITY  (2005)


*

Yeah, this is THE one. Writers/directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez and a whole lotta green screens! A series of three hard-core interlocking noir-style stories and starring a cornucopia of Hollywood’s finest actors to pull it off. Shot in black and white with splashes of CGI color and sprays of white or yellow blood? Now THAT was unique!!

The stories were told in shuffle pattern that all seem to end up at the end, but here are the main ones: Bruce Willis is aging cop John Hartigan who saves a little girl named Nancy from the murdering sicko, Roark, Jr. (Nick Stahl) by nearly killing him. But Roark’s dad, the Senator (Powers Boothe) will do anything to keep his depraved son alive. Hartigan is framed, shot by his own partner, and imprisoned, only to be visited (and hero worshiped) by little Nancy.

Then you got a walking neanderthal loner with a face like pure granite, Marv (Mickey Rourke), who wakes up in bed with a dead hooker that he thinks killed her. But he’s been set up as a fall guy, but why? That’s what he’s gonna find out and God help anyone that stands in his way! His parole officer (Carla Gugino), who tries to help him, gets kidnapped and that leads Marv to the Roark farm where he meets Kevin (Elijah Wood), the killer and cannibal of many young ladies. Needless to say, Marv is not nice to him. He tracks down Cardinal Roark (Rutger Hauer), who’s Kevin’s ward and confesses in the part of the murders. Marv takes him out, only to be arrested, and then finally executed in prison with no regrets.

And then you have stripper Shellie (Brittany Murphy) who’s being harassed by her abusive cop ex-boyfriend, Jackie Boy (Benecio Del Toro) and his cronies. Her current boyfriend, Dwight (Clive Owen) violently warns him to leave Shellie alone, and that’s where the trouble begins. Jackie Boy goes to Old Town (run by all prostitutes) where they harass and threaten young hooker Becky (Alexis Bledel). Uh-oh! Leader Gail (Rosario Dawson), has deadly little Miho (Devon Aoki) take out the car load of bad guys with her samurai’s. Ouch! But killing cops violates the Town’s treaty and it’s up to Dwight and his ex-lover Gail to save the day against one-eyed mob enforcer, Manute (Michael Clarke Duncan) before it’s too late.

Finally, you have little Nancy all grown up (Jessica Alba), law student by day, sleezy saloon dancer by night, who’s the target of Roark, Jr. again. He’s gotten out of the hospital, monstrously deformed and a sickening shade of yellow, and wants revenge. Hardigan realizes she’s in danger, confesses to all his trumped-up charges to get out of prison, and goes after Nancy to protect her. But will it be too late?!

A dynamite script and damn fine directing. It was truly a graphic novel come to life from page to screen and everyone took notice of it. On the DVD/Blu-ray you can watch the movie by individual chapter-by-chapter or as the whole theatrical movie itself. Either way, this movie is shockingly violent, darkly humorous, and has a pulse to it that is genuinely electric. In other words, it’s so freakin’ GOOD!! Everything about it is exquisite from the acting to the writing to the breathtaking cinematography and the CG effects. A true cinematic masterpiece. Rent or buy this and forget about the sequel!

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