Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. Rated R. Opens Friday.
Nine years ago, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City convinced a lot of moviegoers that it was one of a kind. Now, as the sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, arrives in theaters, it’s two of a kind. This style of hyper-green-screen action is a lot less unique today than it was in 2005, but as the new Sin City begins, mostly in black and white with splotches of color for blonde hair and blood red, it starts to feel, if not exactly fresh, then at least hard-boiled, which is always welcome in a field of smothering softness.
Stories begin with characters narrating their grim, sorry tales in half-growled, weathered voices. Marv (Mickey Rourke) returns, and has an adventure with some trust-fund college kids; and Nancy (Jessica Alba) still grinds and gyrates in a sleazy bar, but dreams of avenging her dead love (Bruce Willis, who appears as a ghost). New faces arrive in town, such as Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who enters a deadly card game against a powerful, corrupt politician (Powers Boothe), and Dwight (Josh Brolin), whose ex-femme fatale Ava (Eva Green) re-enters his life.
Their stories of darkness, hard luck, back alleys and cracked concrete have a delightful, enticing punch. Yet, as with most noir, characters eventually get too deep, and it’s then that A Dame to Kill For turns into a bath of milky white blood, slashing swords, flying arrows and shurikens, guns of every type, car crashes, explosions, punching and pummeling to such a degree that it becomes a kind of monotonous hum.
The filmmakers seem to believe that they’re building to something, but in reality, they’re drifting away from characters and that beautiful, snaky, shifty dialogue. They also continue to drift away from women, as the females in this movie are still little more than sorry sex objects and vicious femmes fatale.
It’s not clear how any kind of sequel could have taken the original Sin City further, but if you’re in the market for more of the same, then A Dame to Kill For is a perfect little slice of hell.