Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For (Review)

DIRECTORS: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

Nine years is an awfully long gap between a movie and its sequel, especially for something as high profile as Sin City. Of course there were certain complications along the way for director Robert Rodriguez to finally get around to making it, but even still that amount of time can be a fatal blow to any follow-up to a popular film. There’s every risk that the buzz has more than evaporated by that point, and that audiences simply wouldn’t care by this point. After all, nowadays you can probably buy the original DVD for just under a fiver in your local car wash or equivalent. Put shortly, the risk of making and releasing a sequel to an almost-decade old film is very high indeed, and there’s every chance it could backfire immensely.

But luckily, fans of the original and audiences in general don’t have to worry about that, because Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For is very much on par with its predecessor in more ways than one.

Looking back on the first film based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, it’s astounding to realise just how violent, surreal and – yes – even lyrical everything is. Obvious misogyny aside, and it’s understandable if certain audience members can’t get their head around this film because of that, Miller and Rodriguez both created and adapted (respectively) a world that held no punches when it came to its exaggerated violence and over-the-top campiness. A Dame To Kill For, right from the very first sequence involving Mickey Rourke’s Marv (a very welcome return for the popular character, and who gets a bit more screen-time this time round), brings us right back to that crazy black-and-white world without any shade of imitation or falseness. This IS most certainly the same universe as the first film, and despite nine years nothing has changed at all.

Well, except for a couple of things – the most notable being Josh Brolin having replaced Clive Owen as Dwight McCarthy, who is incidentally given the biggest story in the film which also happens to share the name of the subtitle. Brolin is a much more intimidating presence than the monotone Owen was as the character while Eva Green, as the titular dame, continues her scene-stealing dominance in Miller adaptations (after 300: Rise of an Empire) as a richly complex and, ahem, nude femme fatale character whom she appears to be having a ball portraying. Other returning characters, such as Jessica Alba’s stripper-turned-vigilante Nancy, are given a decent amount of material to work off of and work well within the contexts of the overall story. Newer additions, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt in cocky and charming mode as gambler Johnny, are fun to watch as well and add more layers to things that one hadn’t considered before.

As with its predecessor, the violence levels are off the chart. Sometimes they’re handled as if they’re valuable pieces of art, but other times it can be coarse and ugly. If you feel the latter toward these levels in the first one, then you would not want to see this film, but for everyone else it’s NFSW fun. Limbs are chopped off, gunshot wounds dominate, and even fingers are disfigured by a set of pliers; if you’re the type who gets excited just by reading that and DOESN’T have psychopathic tendencies towards their fellow people, then you’ll enjoy it fine.

If there is one gripe one can have with this film, it’s with the ending. Obviously, we’re not going to go into great detail what happens, but all you need to know is that a particular goal is achieved and then it cuts straight to the end credits. No consequences, no epilogue, it just ends. To some, this abrupt ending can cause feelings that everything was rather pointless and without anything to say other than violence left and right. At least in the first film, it bookended itself nicely with short segments involving Josh Hartnett’s smooth hit-man, which made that film feel more full circle even with all the inter-cutting story segments. Unfortunately, aside from aforementioned opening with Rourke’s Marv, there’s nothing for the film to offer that sends them out on a high note. It doesn’t kill the enjoyability of the overall film, but it is disappointing that after nine years in development it feels the need to just come and do its thing, and then leave suddenly without so much as a good night’s kiss.

Regarding the 3D element added to this film, there’s not really a lot that the film takes advantage of with its added dimension. It can add atmosphere and depth to certain shots, but aside from that it’s not needed as much. You can watch black-and-white figures try and kill each other over and over in normal, flat 2D and still have a good time – and when you say that about Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For, you know that it’s been worth the nine-year wait.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For hits all the right notes to pass as a worthy follow-up to its predecessor – just as violent, just as silly and over-the-top, and exactly as lyrical and stylised as it was nine years ago, it’s a sequel that fans can certainly lap up and be proud to call an additional member of the Sin City family. Hopefully, it won’t take too long this time for Sin City 3 to come around the corner (though sadly, its poor box office numbers make that a fool’s dream at this point in time…)

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