Can you kill me too while you’re so busy at it? Thanks.
There’s a character early on in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For that describes the city as a place “where you go in with your eyes open, or you don’t come out at all.” He’s wrong. I went in and out with my eyes fully open. I only wished that I kept them closed.
Oh, where to begin with this. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is, in a word, messy – a neo-noir thriller as confusing as a detective’s murder case and more violent, putrid and horrific than a crime scene. The only brains this movie has are the ones that it blows out of peoples’ heads.
The plot takes place sometime within the Sin City universe. The question is when? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think the movie knows either. It’s part prequel, part sequel and part in-betweenuel that cuts to wherever and whenever it wants to.
Like the first movie, there are three main stories the plot revolves around and, likewise, three main characters to sympathize with. You have a young Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), who, before he met Jackie Boy, was obsessing over a rich housewife named Ava (Eva Green). There’s Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an overly-cocky poker player who wants to come to Sin City and beat the king of all cards himself — Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). And then there’s Nancy (Jessica Alba), who is still coping with John Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide at the end of Sin City.
Following this easy enough? Good, because that’s all the explanation you’re going to get. The biggest problem with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is that it’s so convoluted. Stories are meshed, mixed and thrown together without any sense of connection or correlation to its plot, and the entire time while I was watching it, I kept wondering where these stories were taking place and why I should care. Some movies do well with intertwining narratives, such as Pulp Fiction or Crash. This is not one of them.
A good example of this is in the very first scene of the film. Marv (Mickey Rourke), the hard-headed thug who was framed for the murder of Goldie in the first movie, wakes up next to two crashed cars with no memory of how he got there. He goes through mundane dialogue for five minutes in his obviously exaggerated thuggish accent, then the movie cuts to the story and almost completely forgets about him.
My first thought after watching this: why was that scene necessary? As the movie continued its runtime, I continued to ask this question in my head until I realized that none of it was necessary, that it was just a continuous farce of violence and delinquency that the kids who play Grand Theft Auto would just drool over.
This movie is definitely violent. That’s to be expected, I know, especially when you remember how violent the first one was. There is, however, a stark difference in how the violence is used in each movie. In the first Sin City, the violence was both shocking and satirical, at times being so disturbing that you can’t help but reel back from it, and at other times being so exaggerated that I laughed at it. Whether it was positive or negative, however, I at least felt something.
Here, nothing is felt. Here, we just look at all shades of black, red and white among severed body parts while we plod through the final act like it’s a homework assignment rather than the climactic ending that it deserves to be.
I’ll admit to having disliked the first Sin City. Does that matter? I give credit and criticism equally where it is due, and even though both Sin City’s are equally violent and despicable, the first one was at least more intriguing and had more cohesiveness both as a whole story and as smaller, separate narratives. This one fell flat, crumbled to pieces and was about as clear as a muddy window pane. Maybe that’s why Marv couldn’t remember anything at the beginning of this movie – he realized what he signed up for, and he tried to forget all about it.