It’s been nearly a decade since we last visited Sin City. I liked that movie. It’s not amazing art but it kinda works for me. It was stunning on the big screen and I enjoyed it when I re-watched it and even though I have a strong dislike for Frank Miller I do love the work of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. This time around though it doesn’t work.
As with the previous film A Dame to Kill For has a number of separate stories. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a gambler who seems unable to lose but then joins a poker game with the wrong kind of people. Eva Green plays the titular Dame to Kill For who taunts Josh Brolin’s Dwight (played by Clive Owen in the first movie), and Jessica Alba returns to the role of Nancy who is dealing with her grief over the death of Hartigan at the end of the first film. Also returning is Mickey Rourke as Marv and Powers Boothe as Senator Roarke.
There’s something missing though. It doesn’t quite work visually like the first one did. Maybe there is too much colour, or maybe it’s just that the shot composition is less dynamic. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing here that I haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s because the film is somehow even more shallow than the original. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t really care about anything that happens in this movie because it’s boring.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s story is the best one even if it is a bit grim. It creates a problem though in that it should have been the end of the movie but instead when it concludes the film jumps to the Jessica Alba story which is, in a word, terrible. The story relies on you having been invested in the previous chapter however the reason to invest in the previous chapter was Bruce Willis and he is only in the background of this new chapter as a ghost and Jessica Alba is, in a word, terrible this time out as Nancy and can’t carry the story. More on that in a moment.
Josh Brolin and Eva Green are both good in their story, Green in particular, but neither of them are enough to elevate the material past being just ok and while it makes sense for a different actor to play Dwight in A Dame to Kill For because in Sin City everyone was always pointing out he had a new face, but then the story beats the ever-loving crap out of his face and they put Josh Brolin in terrible makeup to make him look kind of like, but nothing like Clive Owen.
Powers Boothe is clearly having fun as Senator Roarke. As bad guy to two of the three stories he ends up with what feels like the most screen time of anyone which is kind of awesome. He’s mugging for the camera like very one else but he seems to understand the limits of how to do that. He best to the top, goes right to the edge, but never quite goes over.
I feel like the movie is let down by its directors though because everyone is shooting for that over the top style but only a few people hit it just right. You could write this off to bad acting in general but there are some good actors in this and they are all doing it so someone must have been telling them to. Jessica Alba is the worst offender, missing “over the top” and hitting “bad”, and basically all the smaller roles land there along with her.
Is there any reason to see this movie? Are you a hard core fan of the first film? Then yeah, sure.
Are you a hard core fan of the graphic novels? Not really then because two thirds of the material is new.
We do get to see Marv fight Manute which is kinda cool but it also goes exactly as you expect. The 3D is actually amazing too. Likely this is because the movie is 90% animated so they can make it work better. Mostly though the film is just shallow and boring. If you really feel like you want to take another trip to Sin City do yourself a favour and watch the original.