(Scored out of ten; below 5 = not worth seeing, 6 = OK, 7 = good, 8 = great, 9 = fantastic, 10 = next to perfect)
A Dame to Kill For is a classic case of too little, far too late. With the original making leaps forward in terms of technology, CG has had plenty of time to move past the green screen, comic aesthetic Sin City introduced. Following up on a story long forgotten with a straight forward revenge tale, A Dame to Kill For is anything but.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For comes almost 10 years after the original, making a straight follow up with no recap a pretty poor idea. Yet this is exactly what we get from director Robert Rodriguez. The movie assumes an intimate knowledge of the first film and leaves newcomers (like myself) to fend for themselves. The movie tells 3 short stories revolving around characters from the first film that feel they have been slighted in some way. They each tell simple stories that don’t veer away from typical noir/vengeance archetypes. All three stories are meant to connect by the end but the links between them are arbitrary. The protagonists never interact and all 3 stories are so short that we don’t get enough time with anyone to really feel invested in their suicidal endeavors.
Dwight (played by a gruff and tough Josh Brolin, replacing the cold and clinical Clive Owen) was betrayed by his lover Ava (brought to life by Eva Green, she IS a dame to kill for) but continues to answer her every call. She uses him once again, almost gets him killed, and he swears to do everything he can to kill her. Josh Brolin does a commendable job filling in for Clive Owen but Dwight is such a narrow minded character that his tale comes off as boring. He spends the majority of his screen time complaining about how Ava cannot be trusted only to immediately go to her, get betrayed and then get angry all over again. He also mentions something about a “beast” and how he has to fight so hard to contain it, whether or not the “beast” in question is literal or not once he gets into full on revenge mode the idea is dropped. Luckily the performance (and excessive nudity) by Eva Green are top notch. Had she not been around to spice things up this would have been a right off of a story.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a young up and comer by the name of Johnny who plans on taking the streets of Sin City by storm and along the way seek revenge on his bastard father. He gets himself caught up with Senator Rourke (a sadistic Powers Boothe) and eventually realizes he is in too deep. The beginning of Levitt’s story shows promise but is soon forgotten in favor of the other story lines. In context with the other 2 tales it feels completely out of place. The only connection it has is Senator Rourke and its only purpose seems to be to emphasize the fact that Rourke is a bad dude, which is made clear enough in the other segments. Levitt does a great job with the character but the shoehorned in nature of his segment leaves something to be desired.
The third story revolves around Jessica Alba’s Nancy, a stripper with a broken heart and (here it comes) out for revenge. Alba does nothing of note with the role except look good, which can be said for the film itself. She drinks, she dances, she shoots and she kills. Without knowing exactly why she is doing these things, and the film does a poor job explaining why there’s a random Bruce Willis ghost roaming around, the experience feels hollow.
What the film lacks in narrative gusto in makes up for with violence, lots of violence… and boobs, there’s a lot of boobs. Eva Green spends about 70 percent of her screen time stark naked, which helps from drawing audience attention away from what passes as a story here. Aside from the nudity Sin City sports a beautiful visual style ripped straight from the comic pages. If you loved the originals imagery you won’t be disappointed. along with the graphic novel style comes the graphic novel violence, dual wielding shot guns, a crazy, Asian, samurai hooker, arrow knocking prostitutes, dismemberment galore and crazy car chases. The movie is definitely great to look at, just don’t look any deeper than the surface.
Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have brought to life a beautiful rendition of a comic book but it fails to capture the necessary story elements to make it more than a visual treat. Characters fall flat (with the exception of Eva’s Ava) despite solid performances, the overall narrative thread lacks a strong connective tissue and the movie itself relies upon an audience that left 8 years ago. Eva Green, Jessica Alba and the countless other half naked (or fully naked) women occupying the film are dame’s to kill for, the movie on the other hand is not.
Overall I give this film a 3/10