“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (2014): Same Old Sins (Review)

Since Sin City burst onto the scene in 2005, in a way ushering a new era of film-making, people have been awaiting its much promised sequel and now it has finally appeared. Sadly, it’s a little too late.

When Sin City came out it was something fresh and rather unprecedented in the world of mainstream cinema. A movie made entirely on green screen sets that literally “translated” the comic book aesthetic onto the silver screen and succeeded at it. It was a powerful, brutal and relentless wild ride of a movie that depicted an ugly world in a very fun and memorable way. It was also the height of director Robert Rodriguez’s career and co-director (and author of the original comics) Frank Miller’s debut as a filmmaker. But since then, things have changed a little.

For one thing this use of the comic book aesthetic has become something of a cliché and while some films, such as 300, were successful (at least at the box office) we’ve had a bunch of turds, including Miller’s solo directorial debut, the disappointing The Spirit. Robert Rodriguez has also not been doing so good lately with disappointing sequels like Machete Kills and Spy Kids 4D.

And thus Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has arrived a little too late to the party, after the novelty is long gone. If it would have come out in something like 2007 it probably would have retained more of it’s charm and freshness but in 2014 it just seems a bit old hat.

But it’s not just that the freshness is gone, it also lacks a certain urgency and is really just a case of “more of the same”. It doesn’t add anything to this universe and doesn’t expand the idea or bring new blood to it. It’s just more stories of the same people doing the same things (killing and screwing each other, basically). The misogyny is also much more apparent now and it seems like it’s taking itself more seriously this time. The first one was misogynistic too but it didn’t seem to be taking itself as seriously as this one, or maybe it just managed to divert you better from the misogyny because it was so cool.

Nonetheless, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For manages to be a pretty okay time at the movies and that’s mostly thanks to a stellar cast: We’ve got veterans from the first film like Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe and Rosario Dawson but also several newcomers such as Josh Brolin (playing the same character Clive Owen portrayed in the first one), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Christopher Lloyd. All in all a great cast and they all do a commendable job and manage to inject a lot of life into the otherwise rather stale material. Bruce Willis, though, seems as bored here as he’s been in almost anything else he’s done for the past decade or so.

In short, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For feels at times very much like some sort of B-grade Film Noir and makes you wonder if the original was really that good. It still manages to entertain, mildly, mostly thanks to a good cast but also because Rodriguez and Miller keep things lively and moving at a solid pace and there are the occasional good line or nice visual. It’s not really bad, just nothing special.

The Good: You can’t go wrong with the likes of Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Mickey Rourke.
The Bad: This movie is a misogynistic as they get, while most of the female characters can be described as “strong” they’re also all scantily-clad sex objects and are almost all either whores, strippers or just not good persons. And the most sympathetic female character gets decapitated!
The Ugly: Mickey Rourke as Marv, ripping a guy’s eye out and then saying “I haven’t handled one of those for days”.

Overall: 5.8/10

Written By Atli

Atli is a film geek from Iceland who dreams of being a great film director, but until then he’s going to criticize the works of other film directors, great and not-so-great alike. His favorite actor is Sam Rockwell and his favorite directors are (among others) Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick. Atli also loves pizza, travelling and reading good books.

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  • fernandorafael_c2c

    So disappointing! 🙁 Great review, though.

  • Rodney

    Bugger. I’d hoped this would be a return to form for Rodriguez after Machete Kills. I’ll skip the cinematic viewing and check it out on disc. Bah, so disappointing.

  • Sverrir Sigfússon

    I guess I still want to see it, having really enjoyed Sin City at the time, but it seems that Rodriguez is pretty much done at this point.