Friday, August 22, 2014


In 2005, director Robert Rodriguez and comic writer/artist Frank Miller joined forces to bring Miller’s own series of graphic novels, called SIN CITY, to the bring screen. The result was an unconventional, film-noir style of storytelling which was a visual stunner. Nine years later the two have teamed up again to bring us the follow-up; A DAME TO KILL FOR, which is much of the same of the first film, minus a few important ingredients.
When Dwight (Josh Brolin) gets mixed up in the deadly dealings of his ex-lover Ava (Eva Green), he enlists the help of his brawling friend Marv (Mickey Rourke). Meanwhile, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) gets involved in a high-stakes poker game with the crooked Senator Roarke (Powers Boothe), who is also the target of a revenge seeking stripper (Jessica Alba), who wants payback for the death of her old lover and protector Hartigan (Bruce Willis).

Much like its predecessor, this second voyage into SIN CITY is composed of four different stories in the same setting where characters cross over into each other’s narratives. The film fully embraces the exploitation approach; heads and body parts are chopped off, lopped off, and blown off. Faces are smashed in and eyeballs are ripped out. Clothes are stripped and breasts are laid bare...and guns, knives, daggers, and vehicles are whipped around like laundry. All of this good and gory and sexy fun is mere window dressing, as A DAME TO KILL FOR is ultimately put together by four dull and boring stories. The stakes aren’t very high, and worse, there is a noticeable lack of energy through the entire film. Pacing is a slog, and by the time the fourth storyline rolls around, you are more than ready for things to wrap up. It’s only fun once in a while, and the running-time of 102 minutes feels more like 972.
While the substance of A DAME TO KILL FOR may be weak, the style is fantastic. Director Robert Rodriguez and co-director/comic-artist Frank Miller have put together another visual stunner. With all of the actors shot against green-screen with artificial backgrounds inserted in, the opportunity for some amazing set pieces are there, and Rodriquez takes full advantage in glorious black-and-white with a few clever uses of color. There isn’t a wasted frame in the film as there is always something neat to look at. Rodriquez fully embraces the old film-noir style with distinct lighting and characters narrating everything that they do, and you often have to remind yourself that you’re not watching a film from 1940.

The cast is very committed to their work and everyone is very good. Mickey Rourke and Josh Brolin get the most screen-time and have the most fun, while Bruce Willis amounts to an extended cameo. Jessica Alba actually shows some growth by having to show a dark side, and Christopher Lloyd nearly steals the show as a (ahem) Doc who is not all there. Eva Green spends most of her time naked, but her acting chops are perfect as the seductive and deadly dame…making for a great on-screen villain. Powers Boothe is equally effective as a Big Bad, and the rest of the large cast is excellent; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Jeremy Piven, Dennis Haysbert, Rosario Dawson, and Christopher Meloni.
With its non-conventional style in appearance and storytelling and copious amounts of nudity and violence, A DAME TO KILL FOR will not win over any new viewers, and fans of the first film will certainly wonder where all the fun went to. With its events taking place before and after the first film, this DAME isn’t worth killing for, but as a decent capper to a trip started nine years ago. But if you skip it, you wouldn’t be missing much.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.