Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

When a place is called “Sin City”, it’s best not to trust anyone and just leave.

Sort of taking place before the events of the first movie, and sort of not, we follow three-four different story-lines taking place in the most violent, most brutal places of all: Sin City. First, there’s a out-of-towner gambler by the name of Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who definitely has lady luck on his side when it comes to playing a mean game of poker, but ends up realizing that maybe he’s met his match in Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Then, there’s Dwight (Josh Brolin) who, after having reconnected with a former flame of his (Eva Green), finds himself in the middle of a scandal that puts both his life, as well as his lover’s in danger. And lastly, after having the love of her life killed, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) vows for vengeance against the man who is responsible for this, although now, she’s drinking a lot more heavily than ever before. But also, lets not forget that there’s Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is basically roaming around, kicking whoever’s ass deserves a whooping next.

Though it was over-the-top, violent, gratuitous, and incredibly idiotic, there’s something about the original Sin City that still has me smile. Even to this day, if I’m running around through the channels in need of something quick, fun and easy to watch, and if it’s on, I’ll usually sit back and watch as if it’s my first time all over again. It’s also the movie I can turn on around my bros, and safely know that they’ll enjoy it.

I state this fact because I don’t necessarily think I’ll be saying/thinking the same way for this movie. Which isn’t as much of a problem, as much as it is a disappointing. Because if you think about it, we didn’t really need another Sin City; however, it doesn’t hurt to have one because the original was such a lovely surprise of dark, brooding joy. And it would have been totally fine had both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller decided to go down the same route once again, and apart of me actually wishes they did.

Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.
Could have swore I told him not to bring that Don Jon crap around Sin City.

Because yes, while this movie may not be nearly as bad as some may have been touting it as, it sure as heck isn’t what a superfan of the first movie would want to expect. Remember all of those senseless acts of over-the-top, cheesy violence in the first one that never seemed to stop showing up out of nowhere? Yeah, they’re here, but rather than being all that fun or exciting, they’re just repetitive and after awhile, just feels like a crutch for Rodriguez to fall back on when he doesn’t trust the numerous stories are keeping our attention as much.

Which, isn’t to say that the stories here aren’t at least interesting to follow, as they jump through one hoop to the next, but honestly, it becomes a bit of a drag after awhile. All of the numerous double-crosses and contrivances of the plot eventually begin to show and it makes you wonder what the real passion behind this movie being made was in the first place. It couldn’t have been to get more and more money from the die hard Frank Miller fans out there, could it have? I don’t think so, but whatever the reason may be, it doesn’t seem like Rodriguez feels all that much strive for this movie to be made and work for anybody who decides to watch it.

And I know I’m getting on Rodriguez’s case a bit too much here, and yes, I know it isn’t all that far. But however, since I saw Machete Kills and gave it some sort of “a pass”, I feel like I’m obliged to go out there and get on his case for sort of ruining another franchise that was chock full of surprise and absolute wonder. Sure, the Machete and Sin City movies aren’t the highest of art, for the most respectable movie-audiences out there, but they’re movies that, when done right, can be an absolute great time because they’re so crazy, so idiotic, and so self-knowing about their own stupidity, that anything goes, so long as the movies themselves stay as fun and as awesome of a time as they originally promise being.

With this second Sin City film, it feels like there’s not nearly as much craziness, or fun, to really make up for most of the problems with the script, its stories, or even its characters. It’s just something of a blank slate that feels like it wants to go somewhere, somewhere rather insane beyond our wildest and zaniest dreams, but for some reason, just doesn’t. This is a feeling I’ve had with most of Rodriguez’s movies and I feel like it’s time that he nuts up, or shuts up. Meaning, give me an absolute, balls-to-the-walls B-movie that doesn’t give a hoot about what people think or say about it – or, just doesn’t promise me anything like that at all in the first place, especially if you’re not going to follow through on your promises.

To be safe, just make another Spy Kids movie. Nobody seems to be complaining about them.

Or, the people that shouldn’t be, at least.

That said, the ones who mostly get out of this movie, Scott-free is the ensemble who are either as charming as one can be in a goofy noir, or downright weird that they feel perfectly suited for the material they’re given. Either way, they do a fine job, it’s just that it feels like, in the hands of a much better, more dedicated director, they could have done absolute wonders, like mostly everybody did in the first movie.

Returning as everybody’s favorite, and something of the iconic superhero for this franchise as a whole, is Mickey Rourke as Marv and shows us that, underneath that over-load of costume and make-up, lies a true talent that can still breath some dimensions into his character; even if that character is literally a cartoon. Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, Jessica Alba and a few others return and show why they were picked for this material in the first place, even if there is a slight feeling that maybe Alba could have been given less to do. And it’s not to rain on her parade and talk out against her skills as an actress – it’s more that her character is so poorly-written, that the only positive aspect to her character is that she, occasionally, will talk to the spirit of Bruce Willis’ character. He’s another one that shows up every so often, but really, he doesn’t need to be here; he’s just taking up space, really.

Mean, heartless, brutal and full of weapons. My kind of women.
Mean, heartless, brutal and stocked with all sorts of toys. My kind of women.

As for the new bloods coming into this franchise, most of them are fine, although, like I said before: One can only wonder what would have happened to them, had there been a far more driven director involved. Josh Brolin plays Dwight (who has a new face, hence why no Clive Owen in the role) and is fine playing this troubled character who wants to always do the right thing, but knows that in a place like Sin City, that’s easier said, then actually done. Brolin’s good here as the gruff dude that can kick ass, but he doesn’t have as much of a personality as Owen did. Maybe it’s a British thing?

Another new addition to this franchise is a favorite of mine (so back off, ladies!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, a known gambler who sometimes is a little too in over his head. It’s cool to see JGL challenging himself in something this stylized and strange, but honestly, if you take his character, or even his whole story-arch, out altogether, there would probably be no notable change found whatsoever. Although there is a lovely bit featuring Christopher Lloyd as a degenerate doctor, his story lacks any real muster that makes you want to keep watching him, or this Johnny character as is. So if he was taken out, there wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the fact that this is a JGL and the guy’s known to put in great work. So give him something better to do, dammit!

And last, but certainly not least is Eva Green as Ava, the dame people are “killing for”. Green, with what seems to be the second movie in a row this year (300: Rise of An Empire being the first), brings a certain level of camp that doesn’t necessarily make the movie better, but at least makes her scenes feel like they’re genuinely pulsing with some sort of energy. Add on top of that the fact that she’s naked practically every other scene she shows up in, then you’ve got the most memorable performance of a cast filled with huge, reliable names.

For better, and I guess, for worse.

Consensus: Without nearly as much heart or as much of the shock-factor as there was in the first, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, for the most part, occasionally fun, but never jumps over that edge of making it total and complete, B-movie joy. Much like the original was.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, I'd need a new pair of shorts.
If I was on the opposing side of these two fellas, a new pair of shorts would totally be needed.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images


  1. I was never really the biggest fan of the first Sin City so this was always going to be on the back-burner for me, now though I think i’ll put it right down so that if it’s on TV i’ll consider it but nothing more.

    Excellent review mate.

  2. I’m not sure what happened here, maybe Rodriguez really lost interest considering the amount of time that it took to make this movie, but it looks pretty awful to me judging on trailers so I’m not surprised it’s all kinda meh. Another thing is that they really should have gone with Miller’s other stories and not feature Levitt, who really doesn’t seem to fit this movie at all or featuring Nancy again. Alba is not a box office draw they could have easily choose better story with some new, interesting characters.

    • He’s okay in this, but man, his story didn’t matter at all. I was honestly shocked how it ended. Just a waste of an amazing talent who can literally work with anything people throw at him.

  3. I actually think Rodriguez has lost the spark that made him an exciting director. Nearly all his projects from after the last Sin City have been awful. Maybe he needs to take some time and not juggle so many projects.

    • He hasn’t really been able to bring back that magic we’ve all known and loved him for in the first place. There’s small amounts of it that show up here and there, but not as much as you’d expect from somebody as inspired as he is.

  4. Great review! I’m kind of bummed this is getting such lukewarm reviews. I loved the first one and I was excited when JGL signed on for this. I’ll still see it in theaters, but I’ll know not to get my hopes up.

  5. I’m with you int that while I didn’t love the original Sin City, it had a wonderful madness to it that made it interesting to watch. I’m also with you in that I’m not sure what the point of making a second one was, except to make some more cash. Not even sure I’ll check it out on DVD. Thanks for the review.

  6. There’s just too much redone. I agree with your statement that the fun or the thrills have been sucked out of this movie. Maybe Rodriguez was bored.

  7. I haven’t seen either Sin City, but the first one has been on my watch list for a while. That’s too bad to hear this sequel wasn’t that great. I’m a huge JGL fan, and he’d be the primary reason I’d go see this. That, and the idea looks really cool on film. Thanks for the review – unfortunately, it sounds like another movie that has a great cast, but poor direction and writing to back it, making it one of those “could have been” movies.

  8. Excellent work my friend, I have to say the first moment I saw JGL on screen I had completely forgotten he was cast in this. And that basically didn’t change after I saw it either (just a little while ago actually). Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE him. He’s fantastic. But I felt he was miscast. Badly.

    The rest of this though was the same old Sin City fun I was expecting, but it’s not nearly as original anymore. That first one was an impossible hurdle to surpass

  9. I saw the film last night with some friends. I love the original movie, but this movie was unnecessary. The segments dragged a little too long for my taste. Eva Green was best thing about that movie.

  10. The opening bits of your review made me smile because I was trying to outline a possible Sin City cinematic timeline with my girlfriend after we got out of the theater and it felt like a cutting-room floor scene from Looper.

    Anyway, right there with you on this one. It’s not a good film as it runs way too long and gets repetitive in the cycle of beatdowns and vengeance. But Rourke and Green make the most of their roles, and there are some great shots sprinkled throughout. Not a total waste, but money better spent elsewhere.

  11. You’re absolutely right to say that Eva Green made her scenes genuinely pulsing…I would have been utterly bored to tears had she not been in the majority of the film. Agree with you review here!

  12. You were kinder than I. 2/10 is all I could muster for this ungainly mess of a film. My recommendation? Watch it with the sound off and listen to some jazz instead. lol

  13. I think most of us can agree that we didn’t really need another Sin City film, but I think a lot of us we okay with having one if it was on par with the first, which sadly this one is not. The stories don’t pack the same punch and aside from the opening with Marv, they don’t nail the style and tone of the comic like the first movie does. You’re right that it does become a drag and Brolin lacks the charisma of Owen. It mostly feels like a lazy attempt at replicating what they did with the original Sin City. At least Eva Green’s scenes have energy and flair even though they border on camp.

  14. Such a pity to hear the reviews are coming back and they are so disappointing. This is something I will wait for DVD for, sadly. Great work Dan!

  15. Glad someone else felt the same way I did about this film. I felt kinda bad giving Rodriguez’s latest such a poor review because I have loved other of his titles like the original Sin City, and Machete (also the original). I think he’s best off coming up with new ideas instead of trying to expand on old ones imo.

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