Written by Rhys Wortham
The recurring theme found in most Noir films is that they were sombre action-thrillers. They are gritty, with real world elements, tones of mystery and 1950s clichés. The ‘Sin City’ series has always embodied just that, but with more blood and gore and less clichés. The thing that separates this sequel from the original is that it has a more sinister feel all-round. It has more unlikable characters, less interesting stories but much more violence. The original slowly drew you into a swirling vortex of pain, confusion, and dreary macabre; it really felt like a mystery. ‘A Dame To Kill For’ pretty much clearly spells out everything as the story progresses; mystery solved.
This isn’t a lazier story, but it is certainly a colder one, with lots of characters killed off throughout. Also, the main narrative and every major plot point was completely predictable. I don’t feel the believability of the story arc is anything within rational understanding. It seems anyone who isn’t blind could see what the temptress Ava Lord (Eva Green) was doing to the people around her. On top of that, I can’t understand why all the characters were so transfixed by her. Maybe it was the hammed acting, or the fact that she was just a truly terrible person. Sure, some ‘magic’ element was insinuated, but no witchcraft or magic themes were found in any other part of this film, or in the previous one. So why now? The major tragedy, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, left me wanting more, because it was so anti-climactic. The way his story arc ended made me wonder if his character was thinking about the consequences of his actions at all.
The finale is extremely disappointing, with poor acting from both Eva Green and Mickey Rourke struggling to hold up an overused concept. This was nothing more than a very watered-down “master and pupil” story about revenge. Ava caught onto everything rather quickly and made me wonder if she needed the help of Marv (Mickey Rourke) at all. This, out of all the stories, seemed particularly rushed and because of this it became exasperatingly dull; this was the worst of the series of stories they told throughout the film. There were also really odd scenes, which occurred far too often, in which characters would just stand there and look around. It made the whole thing feel too distant from normal actions, and made me realise I was watching a film instead of being immersed in a different setting.
It has familiar characters from the previous film – Marv made a bloody come back and was the usual go-to-guy for killing everything in his way. That’s fine, but he had less lines and his character made less of an impact to me. Also he supposedly died in the first film, and they don’t explain why he’s alive now. The droning voice-overs are back, and while they do add some character depth, it doesn’t seem to matter too much. The new characters we are introduced to are about as deep as a shallow puddle, so trying to add more depth to them only serves to make the narrative feel obnoxious.
As far as Noir cinema goes, it doesn’t get much more drenched in tragedy than this. However, some of the stories told don’t sway far from the average cop drama we get nowadays. In fact, it even has a few familiar faces from popular USA cop dramas (e.g. Christopher Meloni of ‘Law & Order’ fame). Sure they help to expand on the previous stories, but not sufficiently, leaving a lack of depth just as the others did. ‘A Dame To Kill For’ has a lot of the same familiar themes and styles as the previous. It even has impressive artistic shots like the first. Unfortunately, this installment seems lacking in colourful new characters, and the returning characters are less interesting this time around, since their minor roles could have easily been filled by any other nondescript character. It’s still a fun, action-packed watch, but doesn’t capture the bleak insanity of the first one. Some might consider it boring compared to the first, and I don’t think I can blame them.
Director(s): Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green