It has been quite some time since the first Sin City has graced silver screens. In fact, it's been a whole nine years! That's a long time to anticipate a follow-up. The first feature came across like a breath of fresh air with its stunning sense of visuals and intense brutal nature. Even fans of the neo-noir comics were impressed by the film adaptation, which captivated audiences around the world. With Sin City: A Dame to Kill For finally being released, it leaves us wondering if filmmakers Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez took too long to get the project moving. As far as the feature's material goes, this follow-up proves that they're still delivering the goods.
Similar to 2005's Sin City, the film is composed of several stories narrated from the perspective of the city's most hard-boiled citizens. This includes the cocky Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a vengeful stripper named Nancy (Jessica Alba), and a man called Dwight (Josh Brolin). The blood-thirsty Marv (Mickey Rourke) is one of the consistent elements found between each of the stories, as they all overlap. Each individual is forced to manipulate and fight in this rotten city that turns even the most sane into maniacs.
Similar to most features that are filmed in this style, the quality of each story varies. This is most certainly an unfortunate truth about Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, as one portion in particular stands out as being the its weakest segment. This happens to be true of Johnny's plot. It simply doesn't move organically with the film, causing it to feel tacked on. There isn't necessarily anything about his character to make him very memorable. However, his sequences with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) prove to be quite tense, although they are generally quite short. This segment is split into the first and final acts of the picture, as Miller and Rodriguez leave the film's most intriguing content for right in the middle. This makes for a climax that arrives a bit early, leaving the remainder of the film in an odd place.
Putting Johnny's story aside, the segment regarding the dame is really quite intriguing. Dwight is a tragic character who has endured heartbreak, and is now willing to kill for the woman that he loves. This is where Frank Miller's screenplay really shows its teeth. We're presented with a self-aware tone that utilizes its narration to its advantage. There is an appropriate amount of humor placed into the dark intensity, which provides the screenplay with a bit more to chew on. However, the true highlight is the femme fatale found within Ava (Eva Green). This is a character that draws us in and keeps us there. Her actions are written so well, that I would have liked to see this take up more of the running time. This is a story that's truly worth exploring further, as Dwight and Ava's interactions just might be one of the film's biggest strengths.
Even though the real climax is a bit early in the film's running time, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is sure to impress. Miller and Rodriguez don't hold back, as they deliver the gory goods that audiences will be expecting. Each of these action sequences are explosively entertaining, as you'll find the picture's flaws to be easier and easier to brush off as time goes on. There isn't much that beats Dwight and others fighting side-by-side in an incredibly brutal fashion. Watching this film with a large audience is advised, as some viewers are sure to react in ways that will certainly enhance the viewing experience. Each of these action scenes prove that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is entirely aware what it is trying to accomplish, and the filmmakers do it in style.
Just like the previous installment, having a large cast appears to be quite critical for the filmmakers. There are so many names to include, it would be incredibly difficult to fit even half of them on the promotional one-sheet. Some of the cast members are returning, while others are new to the Miller storyline. Mickey Rourke returns in the role as Marv. He perfectly understands how to handle the film's tone, as his delivery manages to succeed at every point. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is good as Johnny, even though he stars in the least interesting of the stories. It's just a shame that his skills aren't able to be utilized through other aspects of the picture. Eva Green is absolutely wonderful as Ava. She truly goes "all out" for this performance. She becomes this femme fatale, as she makes this character truly captivating. Powers Boothe is convincingly menacing as Senator Roark, as he certainly has a strong screen presence. Other actors include Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, and the list goes on. This is a huge ensemble that works quite well with the film's atmosphere.
The first Sin City looked absolutely stunning, although the follow-up has managed to surpass the original in this department. Directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez experiment with more elements than they did in the first picture. It's still presented in black-and-white, with only certain colors being highlighted. Perhaps one of the most intriguing is how the intensity of Eva Green's eyes continue to increase as we get closer to the picture's conclusion. This is an example of one of the small elements that truly makes this environment so interesting. The use of shadow and light are as captivating as ever. The 3D surprisingly improves the viewing experience. The technology truly completes the overall tone that the film is trying to achieve. The picture remains clear and the contrast strong. There's a strong sense of depth that makes it feel as if we're living within this very same corrupt city.
There's a lot to really enjoy about Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The story that revolves around Dwight and Ava is quite impactful, as it provides everything that we could possibly ask for. The violence and well-fitting dialogue is only made better by Eva Green's ever-captivating performance that truly draws us into the picture. However, Johnny's segment lacks the power that the remainder of the film possesses. It ruins the overall flow of the picture, making it feel as if deleted scenes and an alternate ending have all been added to the final product. Regardless, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's visual direction is outstanding, which is surprisingly enhanced by the 3D viewing experience. It really all comes down to this - if you enjoyed the first, then you'll also be fond of the follow-up. If the first didn't work for you, then this won't change your mind. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For delivers on what we've been craving. Recommended.