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Will the Sin City sequel be your new vice?


Article by Teddy Durgin

Reviewing "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is very much like reviewing the recent "Expendables 3" movie. Neither is a very good film. But they both have really, REALLY cool things in them that, for some, make them worth the price of a movie theater ticket. In the case of the "Sin City" sequel, it has all of the stylized action, fantastic visuals and hard-R content of the first film released nine years ago. It also has Eva Green in all of her spectacular naked glory. She is the titular - heh, heh - "Dame to Kill For" here. And... uh... well, I don't think I'd kill for her. But I might do some serious maiming! What a spectacularly healthy woman. Now, now, ladies. You also get to see plenty of Josh Brolin in this, too. Plenty. There's also Joseph Gordon-Levitt swaggering through the picture as an insanely lucky gambler looking to even a score; Christopher Meloni playing against type as a freakishly weak-willed cop unable to avoid temptation; and, of course, Mickey Rourke's return as the cynical, disfigured brute, Marv, once again pummeling everyone and everything in his sight (the film must be a prequel of sorts, as I seem to recall Marv got fried in the electric chair in the 2005 original). And once again in the director's chair is Robert Rodriguez, whose formative years were clearly spent watching everything from Humphrey Bogart films to "Starsky and Hutch" reruns to Uschi Digard movies. He throws a lot at the canvas here. With this cast and Rodriguez's marvelous visual eye, though, I was really hoping for something a bit more energizing. "A Dame to Kill For" is so relentlessly bleak that it borders on depressing. Once Basin City gets a hold of anyone in this film, it doesn't let go. At some point in this film, nearly every major character is left lying on rain-soaked pavement, wounded, bleeding and utterly without hope. Like the first "Sin City," the film is told in episodic vignettes courtesy of pulp fictioner Frank Miller. And each vignette features a cynical, hard-boiled narration from the character being featured. There is Brolin's grizzled gumshoe. He gets pulled into the web of Green's married seductress, Ava. In his voiceover, he mutters time and again about how he doesn't want to "unlock the monster" that he's kept chained up inside him. Then, there is Gordon-Levittt's Johnny, a gambler who lets us know in his narration that the odds are so in his favor that he'll be the one who trumps Sin City. His luck, of course, runs out when he beats the crooked Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) in a high-stakes game of chance. And, then, there is Jessica Alba's Nancy, a stripper still reeling from the suicide of her father and trying to work up the nerve to assassinate the man responsible for driving him over the edge, Senator Roark. All three vignettes feature hands being mangled, faces being sliced up and genitals being threatened. Rodriguez leaves no one unscathed. Unfortunately, that includes the audience. The first film got by on flash and style. You really hadn't seen anything quite like it. In repeating that same exact style here, there really needed to be more substance. The beats are the same in all three stories. I love the actors. I just didn't feel a thing for any of their characters. In the end, the new "Sin City" is not a movie to kill for. It's more like one to pay-per-view for in a few months. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is rated R for strong, brutal, stylized violence throughout; sexual content; nudity and brief drug use.


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