No one asked for a sequel to 300, but it came out anyway and featured enough style, spark, and Eva Green to get a pass. I’m sure at one time people actually did ask for a sequel to Sin City, but they probably all have kids, jobs, or other real life distractions at this point. So without an eager audience, this is a movie that needs to at least provide the base requirements of its predecessor to not be a total waste of time. Holy shit does that not happen.
I’m one of those morons who knows how to enjoy a Robert Rodriguez movie. I don’t think he’s a great filmmaker, but I kind of like how little he gives a shit about portraying anything approaching reality, and I tend to appreciate the immature glee his later films usually offer. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For abandons reality more than ever before, which is fine, but its biggest crime is a total and complete lack of that glee. It is absolutely lame, limp, and dead at every turn.
You can tell from the opening moments that this sequel misses something vital. Just on a visual level, it approximates the original’s style but in a much more cartoonish fashion, sinking the film to a DTV-level facsimile from the get go. Fine. But we need some kind of trade-off. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For doesn’t seem to know that.
It could have succeeded with character. I liked Marv in the last film. Here Mickey Rourke just stumbles around quipping and looking more like Robert Z’Dar than the character we know. Josh Brolin talks gruff and looks like Josh Brolin. Joseph Gordon-Levitt smirks and/or looks pissed. None of these guys actually play anything. They just show up and pretend to be tough like kids with finger-guns in their backyard.
And the poor ladies. The film asks Jessica Alba to look tough. I mean, the whole third story revolves around it. Jesus Christ. And I don’t care how many times you’ve seen Clerks II, you will never feel more sorry for Rosario Dawson. Juno Temple seems okay in her few moments. Lady Gaga comes pretty close to overhitting the right notes.
Eva Green, usually the bright point for a film like this, does her very best, but can’t rise above cliché. That’s not her fault; it’s the material. She plays a massively generic femme fatale. There’s a part of Sin City’s supposedly post-modern DNA that makes this sort of surface-level noir trope appropriate, but this does not live up to that bargain at all. It’s nothing more than femme fatale 101 all the way, and it's totally boring. Sean Young had more going on in Fatal Instinct.
More than that, and I fear this is an overly male-centric point, but Green spends so much of the film naked that it stops mattering. When she does put on a see-through robe or something she seems draped in technology. I will never forgive this movie for making breasts boring. Never.
So the visuals are awful, the characters are boring, and it ruins boobs. At least there should be some good violence, right? Nope! Except for a brief scene featuring lots of Miho (now played by Jamie Chung) beheadings, the film totally fails to bring any of that Rodriguez fun and inventiveness when it comes to violence or gore. It’s mostly just people getting shot.
This leaves us with very little to enjoy. I consider myself an easy target for a movie like this, and I must have checked my watch ten times. When I walked out of the film I immediately tweeted that the film had no positive qualities. I was wrong. It does have a couple:
1. Since the whole thing already looks like a goofy pop-up book to begin with, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For actually has some of the coolest 3D I’ve seen in a while.
2. I could be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure Powers Boothe gets more screentime than anyone.
3. Christopher Lloyd shows up for a moment as a heroin addicted doctor.
That’s about it. This is a hard movie to like. Filmmaking is difficult, and I hate to be so negative. But I’m not totally confident it’s all that hard for Rodriguez anymore. Maybe it should be.