A Second Helping of Sin, Served Up in Style by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
It’s been a long nine years since filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and writer Frank Miller first teamed to bring stories from Miller’s Sin City graphic novels (read: comic books) to the big screen, the end result being a successful film adaptation and one of Rodriguez’s best films.
The belated sequel/continuation, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, is once again set in that foreboding urban enclave known as Basin City, a realm steeped in the lore of film noir, where excitement, temptation and danger lurk around every shadowy corner, and populated by an eclectic collection of tough guys, damsels in distress, corrupt authority figures, and femme fatales.
The landscape hasn’t changed much, nor has the film’s eye-popping CGI color scheme, which lends the film an otherworldly ambiance not too far removed from our own reality, yet distinctly its own and distinctly “Miller-esque.” (As in the first film, Miller earns a co-directing credit with Rodriguez.)
Among the familiar folk encoring from the earlier film are Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Jaime King and Powers Boothe, the latter enjoying his most screen-time in a long while – and making the most of it – as the diabolical Senator Roark.
Some of these characters, it should be noted, met their ends in the first film, but of the quartet of vignettes in A Dame to Kill For, three are essentially prequels.
The star-studded cast also introduces some newcomers to the Sin City universe: Josh Brolin (replacing Clive Owen), Dennis Haysbert (replacing the late Michael Clarke Duncan), Jeremy Piven (replacing Michael Madsen), Jamie Chung (replacing Devon Aoki), Rosario Dawson, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Christopher Lloyd, Marton Csokas, Juno Temple, Alexa Vega, an unrecognizable Stacy Keach, and even Lady Gaga, but the most prominent additions are Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cocksure card-sharp and luscious Eva Green, a firstrate femme fatale and a spectacular sight whether clothed or unclothed. (Given its high quotient of sex and violence, this is one comic book that is definitely not for kids.)
Although it lacks the sheer novelty of its predecessor, A Dame to Kill For is nevertheless bloody, sexy and darkly humorous – a seamless (and entertaining) continuation of the earlier film. It also represents something of a comeback for Rodriguez, who when left to his own devices and indulgences tends to replicate frequent collaborator Quentin Tarantino’s fondness for the B-movies of yesteryear – although with less rewarding results (Machete, anyone? Or how about Machete Kills?).