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Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

Comic Book Pulp

Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez

Starring Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin

In 2005, Sin City burst onto the screen. It was a brash reworking of the noir genre, using the emerging technology of virtual sets to give audiences a comic book that has literally come to life. Sure, other films had tried it in the past (Tank Girl, or Ang Lee’s The Hulk spring to mind), but none had pulled it off to the same degree or consistency that this black and white film does, with its splashes of colour, narration bubbles, panels, and heavy line drawings. Skip forward almost 10 years and we are once again invited to walk the dark alleyways of Frank Miller’s Basin City.

This series of vignettes sees the return of favourite characters Marv (Mikey Rourke), Miho (Jamie Chung), Gail (Rosario Dawson), and Manute (Dennis Haysbert), as well as the introduction of new characters, such as the cocksure gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the femme fatale Ava (Eva Green). The centrepiece story is A Dame To Kill For, an origin tale (of sorts) for Dwight (Josh Brolin) as he falls for the wrong woman and blood, betrayal and mayhem follows. It also continues the Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) story from the first film, following her as she plots revenge on the murderously corrupt Senator Roark.

As always, Sin City is a violent and sexy mix of film noir and comics, filtered through the mind of the teenage boy that is apparently Frank Miller. It is misogynistic, bloody, graphic and deeply worrying to any attempt to analyse it from a feminist perspective – yet at the same time it is strangely liberating and vibrant. Like the best noir it realises its pulpiness and relishes it, gleefully carrying over all the baggage from the ’40s. Sure, the women are hookers, strippers and femme fatales, but they are willing to be masters of their own fate, and kick more arse than super-mums or manic pixie dream girls. Sure, the heroes are all borderline psychotics, but they are willing to stand up for what is right and just. It is a world of cartoon physics and morality which, if you don’t over analyse it, can be rewarding.

This time around, though, it lacks some of the freshness of the original, not being the slick, lean, sexy beast of the first. It’s a little like the lights have come on at your favourite dive bar, and you start to notice the stains and the cracks. In part this could be due to the cinematic style being much imitated in the last ten years, or the fact that the comic material left seems a little b-grade by comparison (even with two new tales written for this film) making the pacing drag a little. However ,by the time Marv smashes through the windscreen of a moving police car, with all the self preservation instinct of a Terminator, it’s easy to again get caught up in the cartoon violence and the smoky sultriness of Sin City, just for old times sake.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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