Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
If Hardee’s wants to continue with its despicable ads focusing on strippers, then at least hire Frank Miller so that pornography can be done with style.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is an easy film to condemn and a hard movie to love. Knowing that this observation will damage a dwindling reputation, I actually liked the blasted thing, although admittedly the movie was nearly destroyed by a regrettable ending that went on far too long.
Co-Directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have brought us a brutal black and white film with graphic cinematography that Andy Warhol would have loved. Sin City is a nasty place to live and a harder place to survive, and it reminded me of the title of the old Steve McQueen bounty hunter TV series, “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1958-1961).
In Sin City, the streets are dominated by beautiful, violent prostitutes roaming the roofs of buildings while the inhabitants get loaded in multiple strip bars. Living solely for vengeance, it is truly ironic that Jessica Alba has never been better, here appearing as a stripper toting both a gun and a bottle of vodka.
The film focuses in part on a deranged Senator played in sadistic fashion by Powers Boothe and his brash protagonist embodied by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Mr. Gordon-Levitt roams the underworld as a smug, egotistical character who eventually endures a hideous torture after getting involved in a poker ring run by Mr. Boothe.
In case you are interested, watch Gordon-Levitt as the knuckles on his right hand are crushed with a pair of pliers by Mr. Boothe while his dancer girlfriend (Juno Temple) is slowly dismembered while still alive. Did I say this wasn’t a family film?
The actual strength of the film centers on a brief appearance by Rosario Dawson, again appearing as the leader of a gang of talented prostitutes bent on helping Josh Brolin strike back at a diabolical ex-girlfriend who has left him close to death. Ms. Dawson is as beautiful as she is dedicated to her girls, and Jamie Chung is stunning as one of her female gang members with an incredible artistic talent with a bow and arrow.
Mickey Rourke appears center stage as Marv, a dark, laconic killer with a comic book square jaw and a physique that insures his survival. However, it is Brolin’s relationship with Eva Green’s Ava that becomes unforgettable.
Ms. Green, who was diabolically memorable as the Persian ice queen leading a naval assault on Greece in this year’s 300: Rise of an Empire, once again embraces the dark side as a female version of a black widow spider. Frequently completely naked, and I do mean COMPLETELY naked, she uses her dynamic body to lure men to her lair to be used for her personal needs until they become expendable. Ms. Green is as seductive as she is contemptible, and she dances in the company of the cinematic legends Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford.
Many other recognizable actors make momentary appearances in the film, including Bruce Willis, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven and Christopher Lloyd. However, Dennis Haysbert makes you forget about his continual role as a shill on TV for Allstate Insurance. Here, he plays an alien hit man completely immune to pain as he protects Ms. Green. Despite a moment when he endures having one of his eyes ripped out by Mr. Rourke, you know that Ms. Green, like Allstate, is in good hands.
Though I must admit that this film is not likely play in the Vatican unless used to entertain protected bishops fleeing from child molestation allegations, it would have hit a credible mark had it simply ended with the fantastic battle to undo Ms. Green. Unfortunately, that moment was largely lost when the next battle centered on the demise of Mr. Boothe.
As I sat in the theater, I just wanted to yell out, “Good grief, Mr. Miller, please have the sense to end this. I’ve had enough!”