Robert Rodriguez's masterpiece Sin City is a stylized montage of violence mixed with art and sex appeal in possibly the greatest action film of the 21st century. Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller, this is truly a film that anyone who can appreciate true art will enjoy.
The film follows three stories, that of police officer Hartigan (Bruce Willis), ex-con in pursuit of revenge Marv (Mickey Rourke), and murderer with a new face Dwight (Clive Owen). Although the stories never intersect, the characters involved are present in all three as well as secondary characters important to the story lines.
Hartigan is an honest cop in a force filled with corruption. After saving eleven-year-old Nancy Callahan from Senator Roark's child molester son Junior, he is shot in the back by his partner (Michael Madsen) and set up by the Senator to take the fall for his son in the rape of young Nancy.
Marv is a mean-looking thug who has just had the night of his life with a beautiful girl named Goldie (Jamie King). During the sleep after the copulation someone sneaked into the room and killed Goldie. It's obvious that this murder was a frame job, as the police are arriving before anyone could know that Goldie has been killed. There's a great fight scene where Marv takes out multiple cops, and he starts on his voyage of revenge to find Goldie's killer.
Dwight is a wanted killer who has returned to Basin City with a new face to resume his life. When his new girlfriend's (Brittany Murphy) ex-lover Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) comes by with his crew and roughs her up, Dwight decides to follow them through town to make sure that they don't kill any innocent women. He follows them into Old Town, which is run by the hookers. The girls have already got their eye on Jackie Boy and his friends, and when he pulls a gun out on one of them they let them have it. Unfortunately Jackie Boy is a cop, and if it is found out by the police that a cop has been killed in Old Town the truce between the girls and the police will be nullified and Old Town will be left open to be taken over by the pimps and the mob.
Sin City is really a masterpiece of modern filmmaking. The usage of very few colors on a mostly black and white screen is almost like watching a painting in motion. The way the black and white and colors are used also brings the ultra violence and gore down to a very subdued level. What would normally be almost unwatchable due to its extremity is brought down to a very watchable level where even people who loathe violence in films are able to handle it.
It takes a few minutes to get used to the way Sin City is written and acted. For the first ten minutes or so I always catch myself thinking that the acting is very poor and the script badly written; however, once you get used to it, it works very well. The stiffness of some of the performances and the novel-like way in which the script is written really ends up working in favor of the film. It goes along so well with the colors (or lack thereof) and the direction that it adds to the style of the film.
The cast of Sin City is really incredible. It is just packed with big names and A-listers; from Jessica Alba to Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel to Josh Hartnett, and Rosario Dawson to Rutger Hauer. While not all of their performances are stunning, it's not great performances that make this movie what it is. It is the art direction by Steve Joyner and Jeanette Scott, and the direction and editing by Robert Rodriguez that make this film so great. Sin City is really the film that established Rodriguez as a great director, and I personally can't wait for the sequels to come out.