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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Meaty fists connect with faces, guns explode like nukes and panes of glass don't have a chance of maintaining structural integrity—yet for all of the amplified destruction of Robert Rodriguez’s action sequel to 2005’s Sin City, it never impresses. Why is it such a snooze? You don’t expect to be exhausted by reams of soul-sick narration and artful chiaroscuro compositions, but that’s what happens. The doomy, noirish universe of Frank Miller’s graphic novel already felt a little thin and borrowed. Now it's closer to computerized, and even with the writer coming up with some new material, the movie is frozen in a quote-laden pose that already felt spent with the first chapter.

The main problem is uniformity. For a black-and-white movie, there aren’t many shades of gray in the characters, certainly not in returning hulk Marv (Mickey Rourke, under a mountain of facial prosthetics) or Powers Boothe’s venal Senator Roark, who seems unelectable in the first place. Meanwhile, new heroes like Josh Brolin’s muttering photographer are redundant—everyone is corruptible in Basin City, but that doesn’t leave us much in the way of suspense. And when a story hinges on stripper Jessica Alba’s ability to summon a vengeful inner spirit, you’ll be waiting a long time for very little in return.

Amazingly, one performer does emerge from the sludge of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For with an emerald-eyed fury, and that’s Eva Green, fully committing to the title role’s silky monstrosity. Her frequent, brazen nudity—swimming pools and bathtubs are a big part of her day, apparently—is going to short-circuit some viewers (not just the overgrown boys, but anyone expecting a femme fatale with a hint of shame). Yet Green is the only one able to excite this silly material into the spiky shape it’s supposed to take. You wish the rest of the cast was as clued in.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday August 22 2014
Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriter: Frank Miller
Cast: Mickey Rourke
Rosario Dawson
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Eva Green
Josh Brolin
Jessica Alba
Powers Boothe
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