Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has been a long time coming, 9 long years in fact. It’s very possible that 9 years was too long to wait to make the sequel to one of the finest and most inventive films of the 2000s, however it does for the most part fill your noir comic-book withdrawals, just without the same jolt as the first film.
The new film is adapted from one of the original comic books “A Dame to Kill For”, which gave the film it’s title instead of the more crass ‘2’ tacked on the end. Although the film is split into different segments, it is the eponymous story that is the film’s highlight. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is trying to get clean after years of crime, now working as a private detective, when his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green) walks back into his life. He initially tries to suppress his feelings but eventually relents, and discovers that she is being abused by her husband. Dwight attempts a rescue mission with Marv (Mickey Rourke), however Ava has ulterior motives.
This segment is the most enjoyable, partly because it’s from the original source comics, but also because it has the most well-rounded characters. Eva Green oozes the twisted sexuality of old school noir femme fatale, and you can easily believe how men fall under her spell despite the knowledge that it will end badly for them. In the first film, Dwight was played perfectly by Clive Owen, but the sequel sees Josh Brolin replace him. The change in actor isn’t jarring at first, as we learn that Dwight has plastic surgery halfway through the timeline (the A Dame to Kill segment is set before the events of the first film) so it naturally makes sense he would look different. However, as good as Brolin undoubtedly is, it would have been more cohesive if Clive Owen returned to film the post-surgery scenes, which lead on to the events of the first film. Supposedly Clive Owen was busy filming The Knick but you have to wonder how difficult it would’ve been to fly him out to Austin for a day or two.
The two other segments are newly written by the comic book creator Frank Miller (who co-directs with Robert Rodriguez) for the film. Miller’s writing style post the Sin City comic books is very poor and he has became increasingly right-wing, especially post 9/11. However, luckily the new stories, as derivative as they are, don’t share his recent political views. The first of the original segments is the tale of a hotshot young gambler (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who gambles at the wrong table and has a “long bad night” (the title of the segment). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfectly acceptable (he has done all his hard-boiled stuff before and better in Brick) but the story is such a noir cliché filler that it seems redundant. Lady Gaga is surprisingly good in a cameo as a waitress in a late night diner.
The other segment is a very basic revenge story, seeing Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) avenging the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) from the first film. The idea of Nancy avenging his death is incredibly obvious, as after viewing the first film it was assumed that would be the natural next step for her, so it begs the question, what was the point in filming this segment? Yes, there is some character development. She is psychologically tormented, becomes an alcoholic, starts seeing visions of Hartigan, and acts increasingly unhinged, but it’s not enough to justify the segment.
Overall Sin City 2 is a disappointment, but was still very entertaining at a short 102 minutes; I just wish they had used the Hell & Back storyline instead of the two new stories. The performances are all very strong which is expected with Rodriguez at the helm. Christopher Lloyd, as a junkie doctor, is one of the highlights in the “The Long Bad Night” segment; it’s nice to see him again and in something dark. The film may have been made too late, as two of the cast of the original have died, with another two unavailable for filming. With that being said, I am still glad the sequel went ahead. As the film bombed at the box office, the likelihood of a third is slim, but the anthology format would certainly suit a TV show very well.
Genre: Crime/Thriller Distributor:Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK Ltd DVD Release Date: 15th December 2014 Rating: 18 Running Time 102 minutes Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green Buy: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (DVD)