The follow-up to 2005’s “Sin City” (a 5) took its time arriving. Nine years later, it’s finally here – and it’s even worse than the original.
ABOUT THE FILM
The first one wasn’t a colossal hit at $74.1 million. But it had its fanboy base, and that grew via in-home viewing.
This sequel is similar, with a couple of exceptions – it tanked huge at the box office, and the title is much longer: “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”
Miller, who gained nerd fame when he penned Batman comic stories back in the 1980s, was also behind film misfires “Robocop 2” (1990) and “Robocop 3” (1993), and he wrote the graphic novel that was turned into the hit “300” (2006, a 6). The sequel, “300: Rise of an Empire” (2014, a 7) was also based on one of Miller’s graphic efforts.
In 2008, folks (including Movie Man) had high hopes for “The Spirit” (a 3). Miller wrote that screenplay, but it suffered from the same malady the Sin Cities suffer from: They look cool but are completely forgettable.
There are three threads of plot woven here. Basin City is scummy, and these tales revolve around the even scummier parts of town.
Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a beast of a bouncer who protects Nancy (Jessica Alba) who is angry at Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) for killing the only person she ever loved, Hartigan (Bruce Willis).
Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the luckiest guy in the world at gambling, something he plans on using to get to Roark.
Dwight (Josh Brolin) can’t shake the lure of Ava (Eva Green) who manipulates men with her sensuality to get whatever she wants – including investigating cop Mort (Christopher Meloni) – with loyal henchman Manute (Dennis Haysbert) always there to protect her.
Characters bob and weave, popping up, disappearing, then getting together for some serious havoc.
As expected, this movie looks great. It mimics the look of a black-and-white graphic comic with occasional startling splashes of red or other colors.
The dialogue is intentionally smarmy and campy – the entire film is a take-off on the film noir moviemaking style from the 1940s.
Many static scenes – mirroring comic book panels – look fantastic including a stack of gamblers’ coins that resemble a cityscape and the hulking Roark wandering around in the midst of gunfire and mayhem.
Boothe is far and away the top dog in the acting category. He’s straight-up evil and clearly revels in it.
BEST SCENE (SPOILER)
Roark is not happy that Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny has not only defeated him in his secret poker game, but also flat-out humiliated him. So in his long limo, he screeches up and snatches Johnny. Inside the car, very bad things happen to the cocky Johnny. (He ends up having to visit a back alley doctor played by Christopher Lloyd.)
There’s intensity in this scene that does not show up again, sadly.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK (SPOILER)
The characters are just not interesting here despite great potential. Willis is a ghost, and Haysbert is built up as invincible then gets dispatched way too easily.
Alba is an incredibly bad actress. Believing she could ever fulfill her violent vendetta against Roark is simply impossible.
The greatest crime of “A Dame to Kill For” is its pitiful use of the 3-D process. If any movie ever begged to be more in-yo’-face, it was this one. Yet, except for occasional blood spurts (which get old very quickly) or heaved weapons, the film is disappointingly flat.
This is a hard R. Green disrobes often, and there’s a ton of violence and gore. Surprisingly, the language isn’t too bad until late. Still, this is not for kids.
High hopes dashed once again (sigh). A film can’t just look good – it’s got to deliver more. And “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” fails, long title or not.
“The November Man” (looks like old-school spy fun).