Sin City: A Dame To Kill For takes us once again into Frank Miller’s hyper-stylised noir fantasy world.  Adapted from Miller’s lauded graphic novel, the film mixes animation and real life action for a film that looks stunning looking but is marred by a rudimentary and often clichéd plot.

Co-director’s Miller and Robert Rodriguez don’t seem to know if they want to celebrate or parody film noir. As a parody it’s not particularly funny and as a celebration of noir it lacks the genre’s dark emotional power.

The film tells four intersecting stories that revel in corruption, vengeance and extreme violence. Josh Brolin plays hard-nosed private eye Dwight whose obsession with the exquisite but despicable Ava (Eva Green) drives him to crazed acts of violence.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays suave confident card sharp Johnny who incites the terrifying wrath of a bent politician Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) when he fleeces him in a poker game. Jessica Alba returns as sultry stripper Nancy Callahan who literally bears the scars of tragic events from the first film which involved the nefarious Senator Roark.  Apart from the Senator, the link in these stories is the hulking hit-man loner Marv played by Mickey Rourke who is almost unrecognisable with his strange steroid casualty make up.

The story plays out like noir 101 and quickly becomes predictable, gratuitously violent and despite the character’s angst, emotionally inert.

The characters are a collection of clichés with femme fatales (Ava) or embittered victims (Nancy) and a  Kill Bill-style sword-wielding Asian ninja woman.  Similarly, the males are all brutes or sleaze balls although a few memorable performances emerge.  Rourke is oddly compelling as Marv making him both sympathetic and sadistic while Powers booth is impressively sinister as Senator Roark.  Brolin is typically solid as the constantly battered Dwight but sadly, Bruce Willis briefly reprising his role as detective, continues his run of lacklustre performances.

The unusual animation style is identical to that used in the first Sin City film and while it obviously lacks the first film’s striking originality it still looks remarkable.  The mix of animation and live action, not to mention the appearance of Christopher Lloyd in a minor role occasionally makes it feel as if we are watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While an adequate sequel this exercise in style over substance won’t win over the unconverted or entirely satisfy the acolytes.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Animation/ action/ drama/ crime.

Classification: MA.

Director(s): Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez.

Release date: 18thSept 2014

Running time: 102 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 


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