If you want to not just see but hear an eyeball being pulverized, then see “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” If you want to see and hear it in the company of an audience who thinks that’s funny, buy a ticket.
Like the first “Sin City,” this sequel is co-directed by Frank Miller, who created the comic book series that inspired it, and Robert Rodriguez, and they have again perfectly transferred the dark pulp sensibility and striking visuals from page to screen. Like the first film, it is in stark shades of black, white, and gray, with splashes of color — bright red lips, shining blonde hair, sleek blue satin — and, of course, blood.
Sin City is a place of corruption, betrayal, and decay, of haunted souls who can’t remember or who remember too much. “How did I get here? What have I done? And why?” Marv (Mickey Rourke) asks as the film opens and he finds himself with some dead and dying guys. He does remember “wishing I had an excuse to break somebody’s face.” When he gets an excuse, he says he feels like Christmas.
The interlocking stories center on a young gambler named Johnny who wants to bring down crooked Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), who controls just about everything and everyone in Sin City, a private detective named Dwight (Josh Brolin) who takes photos of indiscretions for his clients and who knows he should not trust the woman he loved and lost to a man who could afford her (Eva Green as Ava), and a stripper named Nancy (Jessica Alba), who cannot decide whether she should kill the man who murdered her lover or just drink herself into oblivion and hope she can forget him.
People say a lot of tough things to each other. “They’ll eat you alive,” someone tells Johnny. “I’m a pretty tough chew,” he answers. Everyone in this film is a pretty tough chew. “Death is just like life in Sin City,” another one says. “There’s nothing you can do and love don’t conquer anything.” There are monsters everywhere in Sin City, and some of the most painful struggles are with the monsters within.
But that doesn’t keep people from trying.
There is a lot of artistry in “Sin City,” but it is so stylized that it calls attention to itself instead of its story, characters, or themes. The artistry in visuals and storytelling is so self-conscious it is fetishistic. It always keeps us at arm’s length. Despite superb work from everyone in the cast, especially Brolin, Willis, and Gordon-Levitt, the visuals are more striking than the story and ultimately they overpower it.
Parents should know that this is an extremely violent movie with themes of corruption and betrayal. People are injured, maimed, mutilated, and killed by a wide variety of weapons including a sword, knives, guns, pliers, and arrows. There are graphic and disturbing images and sounds. It also includes explicit sexual references and situations and nudity and strong language. Characters smoke, drink, and use drugs.
Family discussion: How do Dwight, Johnny, and Marv define justice? What do we learn from stories of corruption and betrayal?
If you like this, try: “Sin City” and the Frank Miller comics