When Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s theatrical adaptation of Miller’s Sin City graphic novels was released in 2005, it was one of the coolest comic book movies made. Nine years later, it still stands up to the best of them, with its use of stark black and white noir and hyper-stylized violence. After years of rumors and lots of talk, a sequel has finally been cobbled together in the form of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. As excited as fans were to get a sequel, does Dame live up to the wait? If you’re simply looking for more of the same then I suppose. Unfortunately, it’s also a case of too little too late.
Just to be clear, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a prequel and a sequel. I didn’t know this going in and it never really specifies during the runtime. Our first clue that it’s part sequel is when Goldie (Jaime King) — who died in the first film — shows up alongside her twin sister Wendy (also King). This plot revolves around a few stories that don’t intertwine like they did last time. But there is a four-stage set up and then they’re all tied up individually.First we get to “catch up” with Marv (Mickey Rourke) who wakes up amongst a bunch of dead bodies and a case of amnesia.
Next we meet cocksure gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on a quest for revenge against Senator Roark (Powers Boothe); Dwight (Clive Owen in the first film, now played by Josh Brolin in a pre-facial reconstructive surgery plot) facing his demons after being sought out by ex-lover Ava Lord (Eva Green) with a case of ulterior motives. And finally, we’re reunited with stripper Nancy Callahan, with her own score to settle with Roark after the death of John Hartigan.
While there may be fewer storylines this time — and they are more streamlined — Miller’s script feels even more convoluted. The production also feels rushed with plenty of bloodshed but none of the perverse glee Rodriguez and Miller infused in the first Sin City. More of the usual suspects reappear — Rosario Dawson as Old Town’s Gail is given way more to do, along with the Manute character (now played by Dennis Haysbert with the passing of Michael Clark Duncan between productions) — but there’s also a slew of new characters to keep track of.
JGL’s Johnny is a complete waste once you find out what happens to his character, and his visit to Dr. Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd) is nowhere near as fun as it could have been. Ray Liotta camps it up as a framed man who’s in love with a hooker (Juno Temple), and a couple of cops (Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven) are called in to investigate Dwight’s murder of Ava’s husband Damien (Marton Csokas). Even Miho returns to slice and dice with her swords but Devon Aoki has been replaced with Jamie Chung. Roarke is the only one who looks like he’s having fun and can clearly play Marv in his sleep.
With all the loose ends A Dame to Kill For leaves dangling, you’d think Rodriguez and Miller are hoping to have the same kind of success they had the first time. But I doubt we’ll be seeing a third installment anytime soon. I’ve noticed it seems as if fanboys are the only ones who even know this is coming out and the film is a huge bore. After only an hour you’d swear it was wrapping itself up but then you realize there’s still another 40 minutes to go! Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is too little too late, and if it takes another nine years to make a third entry, I doubt anyone will even remember Dame happened.
Photos courtesy Dimension Films