Nine years after the release of 2005’s Sin City, directors Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller (who also wrote the script) reunite for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). Not much has changed, however. As visually intoxicating as the film is on the outside, it’s dimly vacant on the inside, with not even Eva Green’s presence and charged performance able to hold the audiences attention. Unravelling over four vignettes (two that have been ripped from Miller’s own comic-books, and two that have been written specifically for the sequel, A Dame to Kill For adheres to the same template as its predecessor. The film opens once again with the grizzled figure of Marv (Mickey Rourke), abandoned at the roadside with no memory.
From here, the film bounces backwards and forwards in time settling on three different characters and the stories they have to tell: Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a confident young gambler who crosses paths with Roark (Powers Boothe); Dwight (Josh Brolin, taking over from Clive Owen), who is once more lured into danger by double-crosser Ava Lord (Eva Green); and Nancy (Jessica Alba), determined to avenge the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis). Each one of these criss-crossing narratives indulges the audience is what Sin City is best remembered for: sex, violence and lots and lots of blood, which sprays and splatters across the noir-drenched backdrop. However, as much as the sequel aches to remind audiences of what they liked first time round, it struggles establish itself as its own unique entity.
A Dame to Kill For tires almost instantly, with few original ideas to sustain the audiences attentions for a prolonged period. Of course, there are smatterings of intrigue here and there. Dwight’s segment, in which he falls foul to his obsession with the twisted Ava Lord, is entertaining, and features a devilishly electrifying performance from Green that raises the midsection of the film by miles. The visuals are still as inventive as ever, and the bar has been heightened this time around with the addition of 3D, which has enables the visual team to really explore and accentuate the deepest, darkest recesses of the city itself, warts and all. But then, for a film that’s been in the works for so long, A Dame to Kill For hasn’t been worth the wait, and one decent narrative out of four isn’t enough to satisfy fanboy/fangirl cravings. Rodriquez and Miller’s Sin City may have highlighted how true-to-life comic-book adaptations could be, but its sequel proves it was largely down to gimmickry rather than anything truly worthwhile underneath all the noir-emulating technical wizardry.