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Second Chapter of Sin City is Still All Style and Little Substance

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2014 22 Aug
  • COMMENTS
Second Chapter of <i>Sin City</i> is Still All Style and Little Substance

DVD Release Date: November 18, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: August 22, 2014
Rating: R (for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use)
Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller
Run Time: 102 min.
Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Jaime King, Juno Temple

It’s been nine years since the original Sin City released, and not much has changed, save for the integration of 3-D technology.

Like its predecessor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is still pretty easy on the eyes. With dazzling pops of color adding dramatic luster to the muted black and white aesthetic that’s meant to mimic the graphic novels Sin City is based on, one could only hope the screenwriters would invest an equally passionate attention to detail. Trouble is, all the eye-popping visuals in the world can’t make up for the lack of a compelling narrative, and A Dame to Kill For offers the viewer little more than dressed-up shock-jock antics.  

Written with all the panache of a giggly 12-year-old boy who’s just discovered the female form, A Dame to Kill For tries to cram four “stories” (two from the comics, two made up specifically for the movie) into just over an hour and a half. Considering the only unifying quality is that Sin City is just as dark, rotten and morally depraved as before, the film falls flat in a hurry.

When something is so gory and sexually brazen for nothing more than sheer spectacle’s sake, one can’t help wondering why a return trip was necessary in the first place. All style and little substance, even the all-star cast, including Mickey Rourke (The Expendables), Jessica Alba (Little Fockers), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad) and Rosario Dawson (Gimme Shelter) looks a little bored.

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Really, the only person who seems to be having any fun with her role is Eva Green. Like the character she played in the sequel to 300 earlier this year, Green lends a totally unhinged, big-time camp factor to the nasty, manipulative Ava. While demonstrating an obvious flair for the dramatic in classic noir fashion, she’s not exactly advancing the cause of womankind, however. Like practically every female in the Sin City universe, she shamelessly uses her body (she’s practically naked for the duration) to get what she wants.

In the absence of anything resembling an actual story, A Dame to Kill For functions more as a collection of vignettes awkwardly cobbled together. In what’s a tribute to the appearance-altering power of makeup (and that’s not exactly a compliment here since it’s so heavy-handed), Rourke, nearly unrecognizable, returns as Marv, the bruiser with a heart of gold. This time around, his main priority is pulverizing a group of snotty frat boys. Taking over for Clive Owen (Duplicity) who wisely bowed out, Brolin steps in as Dwight, the same sort of headstrong, secretly seedy character he always seems to play. The anchor of the Sin City universe, he’s a private investigator with rather questionable practices, especially when his ex-girlfriend Ava re-enters the picture.

Meanwhile, Gordon-Levitt maximizes his likeable, everyman quality as a fast-talking gambler, while Alba reprises her role as a bitter, heavy-drinking stripper. Like the previous installment, Alba is still a wrong fit for the part. While she may meet the physical requirements, she simply looks too polished, too pristine, to play someone who’s gone through as much as Nancy has. Worse yet, all her plotting and scheming to avenge the death of her beloved Hartigan (Bruce Willis, who shows up as a whiny ghost from time to time) just isn’t believable when she’s delivering the lines.

If the overblown hysterics of the aforementioned characters weren’t exhausting enough, a string of go-nowhere cameos from pop star Lady Gaga, TV’s Law and Order alum Christopher Meloni, reliable baddie Ray Liotta (Muppets Most Wanted) and Dennis Haysbert (TV’s 24) don’t exactly help the cause. If anything, it’s a reminder that style and a recognizable cast isn’t enough to carry a film. There has to be a method to the madness, a point, a reason for existence, all things that A Dame to Kill For lacks in spades.

SEE ALSO: Second Chapter of Sin City is Still All Style and Little Substance

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, smoking and illegal drug use frequently portrayed, often to excess.
  • Language/Profanity: The full range of expletives (the “f” word in particular) are used throughout. There are also multiple instances of God’s name being misused and rude scatological humor.
  • Sex/Nudity: Sin City 2 would definitely fall into the “hard-R” category with its pervasive nudity and sexuality. There are multiple scenes where women bare their breasts, and there are scenes with full female nudity including the pubic region and male rear nudity. One scene features an extended shot of a woman floating fully naked in a pool. There are several depictions of sexuality, some very disturbing in their kinkiness, with some scenes leaving very little to the imagination. Rude sexual innuendo, references and jokes, plus Jessica Alba’s character, Nancy, is a stripper who dresses in as little clothing as possible without actually being naked. Several scenes take place in the strip club (cue more nudity and scantily clad women) Nancy works at.
  • Violence: People die and get hurt in all sorts of gory and gruesome ways—by gunfire, hand-to-hand combat, eye gouging, stabbing, beating, explosions, being dismembered and even full-on decapitation.

*Published 8/22/2014

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