In 2005, Sin City burst onto the scene like nothing we’d seen before.
Slick, stylish, brutal and toeing the line between pastiche and thriller with an unexpected lightness of touch, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s comic book thriller went on to inspire countless rip-offs and imitations.
Nine years on, the long-awaited sequel has finally emerged, but whether too much time has passed since the original or whether this time around nobody’s heart is really in it, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For feels less like a legitimate sequel than a collection of scenes that hit the cutting room floor of the first film.
Things kick off with Marv (Mickey Rourke), who in winning fashion has murdered several people and can’t remember why. It’s a fitting place to begin, seeing as Marv is very much the epicentre of this film, stepping back as hero of the piece and filling in as comic sidekick for the other leads.
Oddly enough, it is through Marv – a character so ridiculously exaggerated he barely even looks human – that these stories of death, deceit and dark deeds find their humanity. By contrast, all the most disturbing parts of this film focus on vicious antagonist Senator Roark (a toe-curlingly evil performance from Powers Boothe), the seemingly unstoppable monster against whom true goodness has no hope of succeeding.
Playing second fiddle to Roark is Eva Green’s titular Dame Ava, a straight-up femme fatale who – compared to the supreme sadism of Roark – might be better suited to a Carry On film.
Allied with Marv and set against Roark and Ava are two leads from the first film, Josh Brolin’s Dwight (played by Clive Owen in the original) and Jessica Alba’s Nancy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s mysterious stranger Johnny, all of whom share the unfortunate characteristic of behaving in extremely idiotic ways. And, just to make matters more confusing, the timeline for each character differs wildly, with some events taking place before the first film.
As distracting as the convoluted plot might be, the real problem here is that nine years ago, nobody was making films like Sin City. These days, the style and format is so familiar it’s starting to get genuinely boring.
As per, A Dame to Kill For centres on the following formula, repeated ad nauseum: a violent, moralistic male hero allows his life to be overturned by a damaged damsel in distress. It would be ridiculous to take too much offence to a film in which every character is a two-dimensional stereotype, but it’s also hard not to wonder why, in 2014, we’re still dealing with a film in which Eva Green’s face spends just as much time on screen as her bared nipples.
Green here is concocted as a supreme misandrist, designed to expose the ridiculous weaknesses of men – the punchline being that in doing so she has to (quite literally) expose herself.
Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, there is simply not enough depth to these stories or characters to sustain our interest. And oddly enough, there is something slightly reserved about this sequel when compared to the original. Though chocked full of blood splatters and gruesome sound effects, Sin City 2 is strangely lacking in a lot of the brutal edginess that made parts of the first film so disturbing.
A Dame to Kill For is enjoyable enough when viewed as a near parody of itself, but you’re most likely to come away wondering whether that first instalment was as good as you remember. Something tells us the answer might be no.
Released in UK cinemas on Monday 25 August 2014.
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