Dir. Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Greene, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Julia Garner, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Bruce Willis, Stacy Keach, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Jamie Chung, Marton Csokas, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Jude Ciccolella, Jaime King, Alexa PenaVega, Lady Gaga
Review By Greg Klymkiw
The biggest sin this movie commits is being more boring than a soused, fat, old, skunk-pussy whore trying to pathetically coax a hard-on from a flaccid dick, but failing miserably with every attempt to inspire even a half-mast to poke through the globs of cellulite folding over a fetid, purulent orifice of love. This is especially disappointing since nine-years-ago, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller grabbed us by the short and curlies with the stylish, audacious and supremely entertaining Sin City. This time around, the neo-noir magic just isn't there. In fairness, the overwrought visual palette of high-contrast black & white splashed with snot-balls of garish colour hasn't lost its appeal, nor has the extreme violence. What's dishearteningly awry in this installment of short, loosely-connected pulp stories is that they're simply no match for the compelling, original nastiness that slugged us repeatedly in the face like a solid pistol-whipping that felt like it was never going to end. In fact, we didn't want it to end. I would have been happy for Rodriguez and Miller to keep smacking away at my flabby mug with some cold, hard, black steel. Here, though, we're constantly compelled to check the time on our smart phones every ten minutes or so and on occasion, the temptation to open up a game app like Bejeweled is stronger than the pull of the thundering Niagara Falls when you insanely hop the barrier and creep too close to the edge.
Alack and alas, the five stories in this prequel/sequel are simply not as good as those in the previous outing and the hard boiled overripe dialogue feels way more machine-tooled. The latter element jackhammers away at us with such force that it pretty much numbs us to the few decent lines peppered throughout.
Happily, Rodriguez and Miller don't save the best for last. The first tale, "Just Another Saturday Night" genuinely captures a fair bit of the old magic and sets us up to expect a ride as crazed and original as the first. We focus on everyone's favourite pug-ugly muscle-packed hood Marv (Michey Rourke) flaked out on a lonely stretch of highway overlooking The Projects and he's got no idea why he's there. The dead bodies strewn about provide enough clues to retrace his steps from earlier in the evening. His adventure-laden flashback includes ogling Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) gyrating onstage at Kadies, stopping some rich young scumbags from torching a drunk, stealing a police car in pursuit of the well-to-do filth, following them into the projects and engaging in a delicious spree of mayhem.
So far, so good. It's just after this point where, aside from a handful of bright spots, our hearts sink. "The Long Bad Night (Part I)" isn't bad, mind you. Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt) joins a card game in Kadie's back salon which is presided over by A-1 dirt-bag Senator Roarke (Powers Booth). With babe Marcie (Julia Garner) in tow for good luck, Johnny cleans up. The Senator is pissed at being humiliated. A big secret is soon revealed. A certain someone gets their fingers broken with a pair of pliers. And revenge, is sworn. Close, but no cigar with this tale, and we're on to the next dark segment.
"A Dame to Kill For" is surprisingly the weakest of the bunch. Too bad it's the centre-piece. A prequel to the first film's glorious "The Big Fat Kill", the story features the pre-plastic surgery Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin). He was played by Clive Owen in the previous picture and Brolin is a decent enough replacement. Unfortunately this long, deadly-dull tale involves his old flame Ava Lord (Eva Green) hinting at needing protection from her sexual deviant rich hubby Damian Lord (Marton Csokas) and the powerful manhandling Manute (Dennis Haysbert, replacing the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan). The convolutions involve a whack of femme fatale manipulations, a couple of cops Mort (Christopher Meloni) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), one of whom goes rogue, the return of hot whore Gail (Rosario Dawson, looking very bored) plus the deadly assassin Miho (Jamie Chung, a lame replacement for Devon Aoki). There's a too-short appearance by Stacy Keach as the sweating, corpulent, repulsive mobster Wallensquist and even a supernatural angle involving witchcraft.
The whole thing plays out like molasses.
The only decent stuff is the first few minutes involving Juno Temple as a whore marked for death by a slimy Ray Liotta, but it's disappointingly short and dispatched ingloriously in favour of and as a lead-in to the aforementioned nonsense with Ava. Eva Green is often wonderful, in spite of how dreadful this segment is and it might be great to see an entire feature devoted to her character. Green, to be blunt, is definitely as boner-inducing, if not more so than in Zack Snyder's 300.
"The Long Bad Night (Part II)" is a completely inconsequential tale of Johnny's attempted revenge upon Roarke and its only pleasures are to be found in Christopher Lloyd's great cameo as a heroin-shooting private doctor whom Johnny hires to straighten out his broken fingers.
"Nancy's Last Dance" involves our gyrating stripper "daughter" of Bruce Willis (who appears as - I kid you not - a ghost) and her desire to kill Roarke who's eventually going to rub her out to avenge the death of his "Yellow Bastard" son from Sin City. And no, this is not a case of best-for-last, but thanks to a great sequence with Marv and Nancy zipping along on their respective motorcycles and a genuinely decent blood bath in Roarke's mansion, the tale is more akin to being not-bad-for-last.
Powers Boothe, by the way, is always terrific as Roarke and he, like Eva Green, demands his own movie.
The addition of 3-D adds nothing and as per usual, renders everything murky in all the wrong ways.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: ** 2-Stars
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is an e-One release. It's also a humungous flop at the box office.
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