Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Review

Sin City: A Dame to Kill

Check your inhibitions and buckle up – Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has finally arrived!  As the long awaited sequel to 2005’s Sin City, the film picks up right where the first outing in the franchise left off and doesn’t slow down until the last shot is fired.  A Dame to Kill For opens with the Marv (Mickey Rourke) centric story “Just Another Saturday Night” before launching full-speed into two new tales written exclusively for the movie (“The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance”), with the titular “A Dame to Kill For” taking center (69)


“The Long Bad Night” focuses on Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an arrogant yet charming gambler, who gets caught up in a deadly game of poker with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe).  After beating Roarke in front of his associates in the back room of Kadie’s Bar, Johnny heads out on the town only to be taken in and brutally beaten by Roark’s men in an attempt to assert the Senator’s power.  Determined to beat Roark again, Johnny pulls himself together with the help of Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd), a back alley doctor, and Bertha (Lady Gaga), a diner waitress.  Through the course of the night, we learn that Johnny is the illegitimate son of Senator Roark (presumably one of many), though Roark only claims Junior (Nick Stahl in Sin City) as his own.  The story ends with Johnny once again beating Senator Roark, though the win ultimately costs him his life.sc2


“A Dame to Kill For” tells the story of Dwight (Josh Brolin) and his dealings with the deadly and seductive Ava Lord (Eva Green).  Told before the events of “The Big Fat Kill” from Sin City, we learn some backstory for several key players, including Old Town dominatrix Gail (Rosario Dawson) and the seemingly inhuman Manute (Dennis Haysbert), through Ava Lord’s ruthless quest for power and the trail of bodies left in her wake.  Ultimately, Dwight enlists the help of both Gail and Marv (and the use of a new face) as well as Miho (Jamie Chung), Old Town’s deadliest assassin, to take care of Ava for good.sc4


Finally, “Nancy’s Last Dance” follows Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) and her quest to avenge John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), who’s suicide at the end of Sin City has driven her mad.  Haunted by Hartigan’s ghost, Nancy watches Senator Roark gamble night after night in the back room of Kadie’s Bar where she still dances, slowly but steadily building the nerve to kill him as she descends into an abyss fueled by alcohol and fury.  Shedding her innocent exterior and adopting a more cutthroat persona, she asks for the help of her guardian, Marv, to take down Senator Roark once and for (70)


Though it’s been almost a decade since Sin City was first released, it feels as though no time has passed at all in A Dame to Kill For.  The stories weave around those from the first film (“Just Another Saturday Night” takes place on the night Nancy and Hartigan reunite, “A Dame to Kill For” occurs before the events of the previous movie while “Nancy’s Last Dance” follows the events of Sin City), offering further insight and detail into the dangerously rich world Frank Miller has created.  The new actors (including Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven and Juno Temple) feel right at home on screen with the veterans (including Jude Ciccolella and Jaime King, returning for a cameo as Old Town twins Goldie and Wendy) – if only Clive Owen could have had a cameo for the scenes with Dwight after his facial reconstruction.  And while I’m generally not a fan of recasting, there are instances where it is unavoidable, most notably Dennis Haysbert stepping in for the late Michael Clarke Duncan and Jamie Chung filling in for Devon Aoki (who was pregnant during the time of filming); in A Dame to Kill For,these new actors play their parts with almost a sense of reverence toward the performances from the first film.  (Though Shellie, originally played by the late Brittany Murphy, does not factor into any of the stories presented in A Dame to Kill For, her absence in Kadie’s Bar is felt throughout the film.)

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a sequel worthy of its predecessor and the perfect popcorn movie to end the summer of 2014.  The stories are more concise, the visuals just as stylized and the dialogue as poetic as ever.  And while the pervasive violence, drugs, nudity, swearing et all that run rampant through the stories may turn off more than a few demographics, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is sure to be a hit with fans of the series.  By the time the screen cuts to black, audiences will be left hoping it won’t be another nine years before we take a third trip to Frank Miller’s Sin City at the movies.

Andrew Noles

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