The second instalment in Frank Miller’s graphic novel franchise plunges us back into the seedy depths of Sin City, a place so lawless and depraved it makes Gotham City look like Munchkinland.
Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s 2005 original epitomised style-over-substance, with style cool enough to make it all work rather well. And while Sin City: A Dame to Kill For brings nothing new, it’s still impressive to see such a seamless combination of CGI and live action, which actually looks like the panels of a comic book have come to life.
Sin City is black and white and red all over, like a newspaper in a joke that doesn’t work written down, populated by brooding badass blokes and scantily clad women. In fact there’s so much nudity it’s more like Skin City. But for all its disturbing content and graphic violence, Sin City still won’t show a penis, preferring to make Josh Brolin into a smooth-groined Action Man.
The nudity is left to the dames, whose S&M costumes and attitudes speak volumes about what Rodriguez and Miller find sexy and cool. They’re certainly not men concerned by political correctness or feminist discourse, and that’s really the point. These films appeal to our most voyeuristic desires for sex, violence and power, while ignoring plot, dialogue and characters.
All the men talk like Batman with laryngitis, with so little differentiation between them that it’s almost entirely unclear that Josh Brolin’s character is Clive Owen from the first film. His dialogue is particularly poor, grumbling “I was born at night but it wasn’t last night” and talking in a sloppy wet kiss of bizarre metaphors. Also on growling duty are Mickey Rourke who was in the original, Joseph Gordon-Levitt who wasn’t, and Bruce Willis with hair, who reprises his famous role as a ghost. Meanwhile, Jessica Alba returns alongside newcomer Eva Green, whose boobs make up the bulk of the plot.
The twisting and twisted tales of the original are replaced by predictable storylines that are invariably resolved by wheeling in the scarily imposing Mickey Rourke, who’d otherwise have nothing to do. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s subplot also goes nowhere, as though he’s only there to beef up the running time, which is still 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor.
So it’s more of the same from this sequel, which will satiate the fans and alienate the detractors, delivering another bloody beast of brooding noir pastiche. Cleverly designed at the expense of just about everything else, Sin City 2 is gloomy, violent and pulpier than an Innocent smoothie, with none of the innocence.