‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Review

Hard-boiled clichés in super-stylized noir

August 22, 2014

I’ve been writing for hours now. The sun dips. My fingers ache from pounding the keyboard. It’s a good pain. Reminds me of the hurt one feels after pounding a face into mush. Reminds me that in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For everyone has to feel a little pain sometimes.

It’s the kind of movie you can’t look away from, a gripping, visceral mess. Blood splatters. Violence everywhere. Power, pain, and provocation are on the screen. You are in the muck. You are the muck.

Some will complain about the clichéd, mannered talk in Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s latest. They will whine about the violence and the blood, the sex and the bare flesh. Let their tears flow like vodka from a smashed-open bottle. Their cries only bring a smile to my face. The mewling reinforces Sin City’s virtues. Its virility makes the weak weep.

In Basin City, gray is a distant concept, a color the corrupt and just cannot see. What matters in these interlocking tales are black and white, strength and weakness, right and wrong. Marv (Mickey Rourke) may be a murderer, but he’s a murderer of thugs, crooks, thieves, and predators. A gambler, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), plays a dangerous game with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Dwight’s (Josh Brolin) fallen hard for a broad; his desire to protect her might be his downfall.

That broad is Ava (Eva Green). Sex pours out of Ava like bullets from a machine gun, and she’s just as deadly. Her body’s a weapon, her words poison. She reminds us that power is wielded not only by the physically strong and the politically connected, but by anyone who is able to control another, getting what they want, when they want it, how they want it.

"You’re a Sin City cop," Ava purrs at one flatfoot. "You’ve got a gun and a badge. You’ve got power." But he doesn’t have the power, not really. She’s the one callin’ the shots. She’s the one runnin’ the game. She’s the one with the power.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t for the weak-kneed. It’s a punch to the gut, a cigarette burn on the soul. Rodriguez and Miller shoot with a muscular approach too often absent from the theater. Every shot is perfectly framed. Light and shadow are the only color schemes we recognize. It’s a window into the soul of a blighted city and a beleaguered people.

It’s Sin City, baby. Love it or leave it.

Published under: Movie Reviews