The original Sin City got over so well with it’s highly stylised look that Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For was pretty much guaranteed to be met with ecstatic fandom. But then it took too long to make. Nine years after the first Frank Miller adaptation of his comic books is a long time between drinks, and so reception to this current film has been lukewarm at best. It’s strange that this is the case though. I initially expected that there had been so much pent up anticipation for another journey into the dark neo-noir brilliance of Sin City, that this was going to shoot straight to top of the box office, without question. So why hasn’t it? We’ve spent so long waiting for our fix of this notorious city that Miller’s style, which was groundbreaking in 2005, lacks that mind-blowing trip that the first one had.
With the help of co-director Robert Rodriguez, Miller adapts Sin City the way he envisioned it, so there is no question that fans of the comic will warm to this movie straight away. The storytelling is very much in line with the source material, it’s brutal and brooding, peeling more layers off this terrifying, superfluous city and diving a little bit deeper into it’s colourful characters.
The film, much like the first, is segmented into interlocking tales which spin the focus in and out of certain plots within the city. While the lush comic book visuals certainly remain engaging throughout, it’s the easy-to-follow, ultra violent tales of betrayal and revenge that play to Frank Miller’s strengths here. There’s no set timeline here, and the events of the first movie aren’t necessarily where we pick back up from, this allows some characters to pop back up into the stories and for nostalgia to play a big part in the film.
Moody Marv (Mickey Rourke) is once again our most recognisable beat-up face here, and his morally grey dance with loyalty and senseless violence is strangely comforting as we are taken through a city we wouldn’t ever want to live in. Powers Boothe’s Senator Rourke is once again the ultimate villain here, while we look deeper into his family life with the introduction of estranged son Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who gives us some scene-stealers as a suave poker prodigy out to hit his father where it hurts the most.
Fantastical as it is, Sin City’s constant twists and unique characters prevent the film from dipping below a certain point, but uninspired dialogue certainly threatens to overshadow all else and drag this return to Sin City a few notches below average. Most of the fun occurs when we aren’t exposed to Marv’s gravelly voice, with excessive action sequences blending Tarantino level violence with Miller’s monochromatic, accented look. Violent splashes of red colour some of the best scenes of the movie, as Old Town prostitutes eventually return to get involved in the bloodbath that comes with eye-for-an-eye missions and struggles for justice in a city where injustice is an ethos.
Miller favourite’s Eva Green and Josh Brolin are the two main players in the film’s centrepiece arc “A Dame to Kill For”, and play the roles with much more presence than Rourke and Alba. It’s part of the reason why the movie’s middle is Miller’s strongest outing yet, and again flips ideas of gender around to make the female characters much more violent than their male companions.
Sin City 2 is a love letter to fans of the original who have been begging to venture back into this strange world one more time. It may not have the gusto and the heart of the first, but it’s an incredibly fun viewing – as long as you can make it through the dry dialogue.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time 102 minutes
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For releases in cinemas on September 18