Review by Bob Ignizio
To quote the Ramones, “Second verse, same as the first.” That about sums up Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez' SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. Arguably, it may even be a better overall film than its predecessor, 2005's SIN CITY, but now that the novelty has worn off the film's hyper stylized black and white blend of live action performances and digital sets, it loses some of the impact it might otherwise have had. That means DAME has to rely more on its stories, which as is the case in the comics these films are derived from, tend to be less interesting than the way in which they're presented.
A DAME TO KILL FOR consists of four loosely connected crime tales set in the fictitious locale of Basin City somewhere in the American west, each segment seasoned liberally with sex, violence and hard-boiled dialogue. Mickey Rourke is more or less the film's star as hulking anti-hero Marv, getting at least a cameo in every segment. He's so perfect in the role you don't bother to question how he's in the movie seeing as he died in the last one (the film doesn't make mention of it that I noticed, but in the comics at least some of the stories in DAME take place before the first film). Rourke is joined by a stellar cast including Josh Brolin, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis (also dead in the last movie, a ghost here, so you figure out the chronology), Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, and Eva Green.
The whole film plays like Miller's id let loose to play. It's a macho fantasy where all the women are strippers and/or whores and/or deadly black widows. And even though some of the strippers are stripper ninjas, when it's all said and done they still need tough guys with a code to protect them from other tough guys. Yes, Rodriguez is credited as co-director, but as anyone who read the original comics can tell you, this is Miller's vision all the way. Rodriguez is merely a facilitator.
There are definitely some aspects of this movie that aren't going to sit well with some viewers irregardless of its quality. The way the movie displays Eva Green's body, which is naked at least 75% of the time she's on screen, is hard to describe as anything other than leering. There are also numerous elements in the stories that are paternalistic at best, downright misogynistic at worst. I don't say this necessarily as a criticism – I can enjoy a good piece of violent pulpy trash rife with gratuitous violence and nudity and sexist attitudes without feeling that it compromises my very different attitudes in real life as long as the movie is good and/or entertaining. Nonetheless those are the attitudes expressed by the film, and they may be more troubling to some.
As mentioned early on in this review, some of the sheen has faded in the nearly 10 years between the first SIN CITY and this one. You only get one chance to blow people away with something new, so unless you missed the first film, the freshness is gone. That said, the visual style of SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is still pretty impressive. In other words, like so many films these days, SIN CITY is a franchise now, and like any good franchise, it delivers the product its customers want the way they want it. No real surprises or attempts to raise the bar, but it'll hit the spot if you're looking for more of the same. 3 out of 4 stars.