Imagine a world of black and white, where the relationship between law and justice is anything but. Where walking down a dark, rainy alley can get you killed just for being there. The kind of place where the women are beautiful and resourceful seductresses, and the men bristle with muscle and itch for action. This world is that of Frank Miller's 'Sin City', and nine years after it first came to life on screen, we get our second taste of blood with the film's sequel 'A Dame To Kill For'.
Our favourites are all back: Marv (Mickey Rourke) finds himself in a tussle with some frat boys and is cornered by the cops, but struggles to recall how it all began. Meanwhile, young Nancy (Jessica Alba) is tormented by the death of her one true love, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), and is willing to stop at nothing to get revenge. Then there's newcomer Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who's on a winning streak until he runs into the wrong crook (Powers Boothe). Plus Dwight McCarthy (this time, played by Josh Brolin) flirts with an old flame (Eva Green) and ends up getting burned.
In typical 'Sin City' style, these stories intertwine as characters dip in and out, and writer/directors Miller and Robert Rodriguez aren't afraid to throw the audience back and forth in time; clearly death can't keep a good character down. The stories are well-paced - never boring for one moment - and certainly aren't lacking any of the sex or violence which defined the first film and made it a cult hit.
Considering nearly all of the cast have returned - in one form or another - it's pretty plain to see these big names are having a lot of fun on screen. Mickey Rourke, more than any other, makes Marv so enjoyable to watch; his portrayal is much more of a loveable rogue than simply a ball-busting brute this time around. For much of the film, it seems like Jessica Alba is simply there to dance provocatively - that is, until her story comes to fruition, and she turns dark and dangerous. Josh Brolin plays the love-sick hard-ass well enough, and his portrayal of Dwight balances nicely against his romantic interest/arch-nemesis Ava Lord, whom Eva Green brings to the screen in a way you've never seen her before (possibly due to budget cuts to the wardrobe department). There are a few dead ends in the script, including Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven's police officers who become entangled with Ava. Yet the one big disappointment is the storyline featuring Johnny - despite Joseph Gordon-Levitt being his usual captivating self, his tale never really seems to go anywhere, and ends up hitting a brick wall, leaving Gordon-Levitt drastically underutilised.
Considering nearly all of the cast have returned, it's pretty plain to see these big names are having a lot of fun on screen.
Visually, Miller and Rodriguez have worked their magic once again, bringing Sin City to life in spectacular style. The melding of 3D and the black-and-white palette completely convince you that you're inside a comic book, and the sequel is even more visually faithful to Miller's graphic novels than the original. Much like the first film, 'A Dame To Kill For' was all shot against green screen, but it's not as though you could ever tell - there's so much detail in every shot.
Maybe I'm a sucker for noir, stylised violence and flawed heroes, but this film entertained me relentlessly for its 102 minute duration. It succeeds because it never takes itself too seriously, with a littering of bad puns thrown in amongst the blood and brutality. 'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For' doesn't quite live up to the original, but it's not far off - and it's so goddamn fun, you won't mind a bit. So be a doll and check it out, would you?