When the Original Sin City came out in 2005, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name, I was intrigued. The live action comic book visual style was incredibly creative and appealing. However, I never went to see it in theaters. Time tends to get away from you, and it certainly got away from me. It wasn’t until last year that I actually watched through the entirety of Sin City. I loved it. I could have done without the strong sexual content, but the coupling of stylized action violence and noir storytelling created by director Robert Rodriguez was enthralling. Film noir is not my favorite. I generally find it boring and emotionless, but within this universe, it works. When I heard a new Sin City was coming out in 2014, I wasn’t sure what to think. On the one hand, I had just recently seen it’s predecessor, but on the other, it has been nine years since the original was released, and that rarely works out.
Was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For worth the wait? Or did it disappoint? Not really and yes…
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For brings back old favorites Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Ray Liotta, Bruce Willis, and Powers Boothe, reprising their previous roles. In addition, you have Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Meloni, and more, playing new roles or replacing actors from the prior release. It is here that the length of time passing helped because I wasn’t sure who was a new actor or a new character. Most of the actors performed well enough, but in typical noir fashion, they didn’t seem like genuine people. Everything was extreme, from acting to violence to sex.
A Dame to Kill For follows four distinct story lines that rarely cross, to the detriment of the film. The four protagonists–Rourke, Gordon-Levitt, Brolin, and Alba–were fine, but for the most part, their motivations were often unclear. Eva Green plays the dame worth killing for–a beautiful, bewitching woman who wraps men around her fingers and breaks them for her pleasure. Unfortunately, the majority of her on-screen time finds her in all manner of undress, at the very least topless or in an incredibly sheer nightgown. This ruined the entire middle portion of the movie for me. We get that she is comfortable being naked, but move on and develop the story… even a little bit. This is where Sin City failed in my mind. Rather than focusing on story and intriguing characters, Rodriguez focused on the stylized nature of each shot which, though it looked fantastic, was not enough to carry the movie.
A Dame to Kill For was somewhat enjoyable, but the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it. Part of the issue is surely the length of time that passed between the films and the movies that have come out in between. When Sin City came out, audiences were amazed by a brand of filmmaking they had never seen before. Since then, movies have progressed way beyond what Sin City did in 2005, making A Dame to Kill For seem old and tired in comparison. If the movie had been released in 2007 or 2008, it may have received more critical acclaim. Unfortunately, the old style, so-so acting, and muddled story, mixed with the unnecessary sexual content makes Sin City: A Dame to Kill For a movie worth missing.