One wonders how mighty this might have been, had it not taken almost a decade to get to the big screen. I was bowled over (I wasn’t alone) by Frank Miller’s dark, muscular “Sin City” in April of 2005, and it’s still easily the best film that Robert Rodriguez has ever directed. It made my Top Ten Films list that year, and it grossed about four times its budget worldwide. Work on this sequel apparently began as early as 2006, and the complete movie was promised to be on its way soon. And then there were delays, and then more delays–and then some key cast members were lost too. Michael Clarke Duncan suffered a fatal heart attack in 2012, so Dennis Haysbert became our new Manute. 32-year-old Brittany Murphy died from a respiratory illness in 2009, and Mr. Miller dropped her role of Shellie from the sequel script out of respect. And Devon Aoki was unable to return as assassin Miho (she was pregnant with her 2nd child), so Jamie Chung was cast as her replacement. Also, Josh Brolin became Dwight McCarthy, filling in for the abstaining Clive Owen. So, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” had an uphill battle from the get go. In fact, it’s just short of amazing that the project was finally completed. But–how did it do?
Well, financially, it’s considered a bomb (a 40 million dollar return, on a reported budget of 65 million), but artistically–color me pleasantly surprised. Oh, it’s inferior to the original–without a doubt–but overall, it plays rather well. And despite the aforementioned absences, enough principals are back on board to keep the seams from showing too much. Mickey Rourke is back as Marv (although admittedly not as astonishing as he was in the 2005 film), and Jessica Alba returns as Nancy Callahan. Rosario Dawson is again the enforcer Gail, and Bruce Willis is still our John Hartigan. Powers Booth reprises as the corrupt Senator Roark, plus we pick up sterling newcomers like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ray Liotta and Christopher Meloni. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t something a little bit off about it. It’s not as cohesive as the first film, nor is it as inspired. But, like “300: Rise of an Empire” (itself, a sequel to Miller adaptation “300”) before it, it all comes down to Eva Green. Eva bolsters this motion picture to vibrant life every time she appears, igniting the screen with her sultry good looks, plentiful nudity, and the promise (and delivery) of femme fatale sex and violence. To put it plainly–SEE THIS for Eva Green’s Ava Lord.
The poor reception for “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”, reminds me quite a bit of last year’s unceremonious late-summer “dumping” of the sequel, “Kick-Ass 2”. The pair of them were blasted with quite a bit of vitriol, seemingly for the unforgivable crime of not being the equal of their respective predecessors. But, you know what? Neither sequel is all that bad. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” once again sports the solid director teaming of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, plus it has a pungent Miller screenplay, featuring an abundance of brutality and sensuality, awesome black-and-white visuals sparked by vibrant splashes of color–and even a cameo from Lady Gaga. I tallied more pluses than minuses when all was said and done, and I guess the ultimate compliment is that I would watch “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” again. If only for one character–oh, I am infatuated with that Eva Green! A dame to kill for is right.