Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
Back in 2005 when Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez teamed up together to transition Miller’s graphic novel Sin City into a live-action motion picture, it was hailed by critics & viewers alike as a groundbreaking cinematic feat that brought on screen something never done before, something never seen before & something never experienced before. And now nine years later, a sequel that has been in development for a long time finally surfaces and I’ve to say that it’s not as bad as its reception reflects. Maybe it was my low expectations from it due to early disappointing reviews that did the trick but I had a wonderful time with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. It’s got the style that made its predecessor an instant classic, the stories are engaging to quite an extent & although it lacks the freshness of the original, it still makes up for one entertaining ride.
Acting as both a prequel & sequel to Sin City, A Dame to Kill For is divided into three primary segments plus one brief episode that opens the film & is narrated in a non-chronological order just like the last feature. It begins with the short story Just Another Saturday Night featuring Marv who regains consciousness amidst dead bodies & retraces his steps to understand how he got there. The first segment is The Long Bad Night; narrated in two parts & concerning a cocky gambler who buys into a poker game with the all-powerful Senator Boothe but has no idea of the hard time that awaits him. Next segment is A Dame to Kill For; featuring Dwight before his facial surgery who is seduced by an old flame into her evil plan. And the final segment, Nancy’s Last Dance, concerns Nancy who is still struggling with Hartigan’s death & is obsessed with vengeance on Senator Roark, which she finally carries out with a little help from Marv.
Co-directed, edited, photographed & scored by Robert Rodriguez, this long-awaited sequel may not be worth its nine years wait and unlike its predecessor doesn’t bring anything new on the silver screen but then it would’ve been too much to ask for as the style over substance premise rarely works twice. However, this second chapter is good enough to stand on its own feet. Written & co-directed by Frank Miller, the film weaves two stories from his graphic novels with new original tales and interlinks many events that happened before & after the first film. The technical aspects are brilliantly executed as Cinematography makes excellent use of lighting, shadows & colours, Editing is little bit dodgy in places but still works out fine for the most part, and the background score includes some really fascinating tracks which seamlessly gel with its segments.
Many of the characters present in the previous film make their return in this one and so do the actors Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe & Rosario Dawson while Josh Brolin, Jaime Chung & Dennis Haysbert take over the role of Dwight, Miho & Manute, respectively, which was played by other actors in the last film. And the new cast includes Eva Green & Joseph-Gordon Levitt with brief cameos from Ray Liotta, Juno Temple & Lady Gaga. Reprising their respective roles of Nancy & Marv, both Alba & Rourke deliver swashbuckling performances here and I was very pleased with the Rourke’s character Marv getting more screen time than before for he was my favourite character in the last film & he turned out to be the most impressive in this film as well. Alba also gets to do more here this time as Nancy than just dance around at Kadie’s Bar & the final segment nicely exposes the dark side of her innocent persona.
Marv ends up featuring in all four segments & effortlessly manages to leave his mark in all of them. The Long Bad Night introduces Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny; the cocky gambler who goes against Powers Boothe’s Roark in the game of poker and the performances by the two are as convincing as it is compelling. A Dame to Kill For features Josh Brolin as Dwight & although I’ve been having a tough time liking this actor ever since Spike Lee’s Oldboy happened, he is quite good here but Clive Owen did a much better job at playing this character. However, stealing the show in this segment is none other than Eva Green in yet another sultry, seductive role & her performance as Ava Lord is much more convincing than I anticipated. Devon Aoki is severely missed as Miho, played by Jaime Chung this time, Haysbert effectively takes over the role of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Manute & Rosario Dawson is still cool as Gail.
On an overall scale, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t without its flaws & doesn’t even come close to matching the legacy of its predecessor but it’s a fine second chapter that follows the same route of the original, exhibits an incredible amount of style, includes many good moments with few over-the-top ones and plays to its strengths by providing more screen time to both Marv & Nancy; the most admired characters of the last film. Bruce Willis turns out to have a muted presence here, many other characters remain underused & Eva Green really seem to be having a tough time staying in clothes (not that I’m complaining). For what it’s worth, A Dame to Kill For accomplishes what it sets out to do, remains true to its style & offers an eye-candy extravaganza that works to some extent. If you’re expecting a groundbreaking film like before, then A Dame to Kill For will crush under that weight for it was the last film’s unique presentation that made it a classic & this successor has nothing unique going on in any of its aspects.