Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: Cinema Siren says gloriously graphic, too bad they killed plot in the process.

Eva Green’s breasts should have their own screen credit in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the new hyper-stylized comic book-based flick co-helmed by director Robert Rodriguez and writer Frank Miller.  They present themselves more often than a large percentage of the co-stars.   Not that those attracted to this film will mind, but the title should have been Sin City: A Bounty of Breasts and Buckets of Blood.  In terms of violence and killing, there isn’t so much a head count, as a headless count.


Though likely to be most appreciated by fans of graphic novels, especially those drawn with Frank Miller’s unmistakable style, there are several successful and entertaining qualities for the curious and uninitiated.  The film is, as was the first Sin City, almost exclusively in black and white, with touches of color to punctuate the proceedings.  For example, blood, brightly colored eyes, and the glare of lights are all highlighted at various points.  The editing and special effects are all designed to bring a comic book into the world of film, morphing the two, and this movie absolutely achieves that aim.  It is a fascinating experience for someone who finds comic books visually distracting, but loves the idea of graphic design in storytelling.  As to dialogue, although those up on their hard boiled writers like Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and James Crumley will find the dialogue derivative, imitation is the best form of flattery here, and some of the lines are, indeed, to die for.  It’s just one zinger, however dark and  desperate, after another.


The actors clearly know how to fit into this graphic noir world, and are a great reason to see this quasi-sequel.  Eva Green is as hot as the barrel of a spent and smoking 45, and just as dangerous…  Or as hot as the Paris metro in August at rush hour and with just as many riders. You get the idea.  She’s hot. So are several other co-starring dames.  Jessica Alba is just as compelling as Eva Green even remaining comparatively clothed.  She also manages to wring out some audience sympathy with her ‘hot mess and high ball’ style of grief, and the confounding morality that keeps getting in the way of her revenge.  Rosario Dawson finds a way to make a character with a rather undefined backstory and inexplicable loyalties interesting, tasks at which she has succeeded in other films, and she proves she is worthy of Hollywood’s attentions once again here.

The men of Sin City: ADTKF are all a tough breed, with scars on the inside, outside, or both, and mostly they seem to care little if they make it through any night alive.  Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolan,Powers Boothe and even Joseph Gordon-Levett spray enough  testosterone to spike a full year’s batch of Axe body spray.
Stars of both gender play up the film noir as if they know its history, and those who present themselves all cloaked in mystery and stay that way still seem to make use of back stories, possibly of their own invention.  Sadly the audience is never exposed to most of them.


As to plot, It’s largely a mishmash of revenge fantasies, served up by what seem to be a tragically hopeless lot but showing up in a variety of characters chewing on the grizzle of betrayal, and spewing it out in the form of colossally bad choices.  The audience can’t root for their survival, only the success of their plans.  It is in the plot where the weakness of the film reveals itself.  There is no true cohesion to bring all the stories together, in the way, say, Pulp Fiction finds a way to do.  It’s all just, as Pink Floyd would say, “lost souls swimming in a fish bowl”.

The stylistic visuals and multiplex-screen-sized characterizations do stay with you. In thinking back on watching it, it is hard to recall what was live action, what was effects, and what was animation.  It plays in the brain like a comic book, and that can’t be an easy mash-up to create in someone’s memory.  That’s quite unusual. 

I cannot stress enough this is a violent film.  There aren’t arms being pulled off a la Japanese ultraviolence like Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, but there is an errant eyeball or two being scooped from their owners’ heads, and even in black and white, it’s a bit hard on the stomach.  The suggestion Cinema Siren gives here is if you’re looking for something extremely graphic, in every way, this might be for you.  A great cast blowing through 2 hours brandishing guns, bows, whips, and really bad attitudes might make it worth checking this salty slice of celluloid out. But remember, despite it being in black and white, the violence might turn your stomach more than a repeat trip on the teacup ride at a cheap one night carnival.

Don’t buy popcorn.

3 out of 5 stars