Welcome to Basin City, where every side of the tracks is the wrong side of the tracks!
Here dying is as easy as living, killing is as easy as breathing, there’s a stereotype on every street corner and the local currency is the cliché.
Ah, but at least one resident of Basin City has a dark sense of humour, because they’ve snuck out to the city limits and scratched out the first two letters on the sign welcoming newcomers to town. Ha-ha-ha! Get it? Sin City!
Yeah, we get it.
You may have guessed by now that I didn’t think much of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the sequel to the hard-boiled 2005 comic-book adaptation Sin City. And you’d have guessed correctly.
The first Sin City, co-directed by the increasingly hacky Robert Rodriguez and the increasingly nutty comic-book writer-artist Frank Miller, was no masterpiece – in fact, it was a slick film-noir knockoff that lamely attempted to shock with sex and violence when it wasn’t striking silly poses and muttering cheap one-liners.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, once again co-helmed by Rodriguez and Miller, makes its predecessor look like a masterpiece.
The film’s four vaguely intersecting stories take place on the mean streets inhabited by the likes of grotesque brawler Marv (Mickey Rourke, wearing disfiguring make-up…or is he?) and traumatised stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba, continuing her stellar run of mediocre performances) and the corridors of power commanded by the evilest man alive, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe, whose suave bastardry is one of the movie’s few virtues).
There are a few familiar faces from the first Sin City – the afore-mentioned Marv and Nancy, not to mention a snoozy cameo from the ever-uninterested Bruce Willis – but there are also a few new kids in town, such as cocky gambler Johnny (a well-cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and femme fatale Ava Lord (Eva Green).
The titular dame to kill for, Ava may be the best reason to see this movie, and not just because of the character’s disdain for clothing.
It’s because Green finds the sweet spot between larger-than-life performance and genuine acting, occasionally and fleetingly turning this leaden junk into solid gold.
Without her and a few others, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For would be nothing more than a strutting, preening buffoon of a movie, a spineless wimp posing as a tough guy.