It has been nearly 9 years since the first Sin City was released. Despite doing well at the box office, a sequel never came to fruition. There were rumors every year; a murmur here and there, cast changes, title changes, and finally the sequel is here. A Dame to Kill For might be too little too late for die-hard fans, but it is a fun film despite a lack of cohesiveness, some exceptionally goofy moments, and unnecessary characters.
With a mesh of new stories and ones already published, and cast members who are returning, have been replaced, and are entirely new, and also spanning different time periods in the film, there is a lot going on. A Dame to Kill For is essentially four different vignettes, where one is split into two parts, and they all feature some of the same recurring characters. There is “Just Another Saturday Night,” “The Long Bad Night (two parts),” “A Dame to Kill For,” and “Nancy’s Last Dance.” Each has their moments, while each also has their fair share of hiccups. Where the first film streamed easily between the different threads, introducing us to memorable characters and even more memorable villains, A Dame to Kill For expects you to know who these characters are while not entirely being a true sequel.
The movie is chockfull of famous faces, some with a need to be there, others without much of a presence other than a “oh, look who it is!” From the original film we have Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Powers Booth, Rosario Dawson, and Jamie King. Clive Owen is replaced by Josh Brolin, Michael Clarke Duncan by Dennis Haysbert, and Devon Aoki is replaced by Jamie Chung. The newcomers include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Stacy Keach, Alexa Vega, Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd, and, surprisingly, Lady Gaga. The movie is shorter than the original and features a bigger cast. A good portion of the supporting cast is only briefly on screen, and in some cases if you blink you might just miss them. Liotta, Gaga, Vega, Piven, and Lloyd are in it for so little it’s a wonder why they were even cast. Brolin, filling the shoes of Owen, is not quite as entertaining as his predecessor, nor does he have the ability to drop the deadpan wit. Rourke is most definitely the highlight as the violent and crazy Marv who can burst people’s heads with his bare hands and also rip out people’s eyes. Most of the movies memorable moments come from his ability to kill people in creative and often gruesome ways.
My major gripe with the film is the pointlessness of one of the vignettes. I won’t reveal which one it is, but at the end it does not seem to have a major influence on its interconnected threads to another storyline. It is fun, sure, but it is absolutely unnecessary. The movie feels disjointed, which should already be the case in a way since the movie is just different vignettes, but it feels more so disjointed because of its amount of stories. There is a short vignette that mainly serves as an intro to the film, then the first part of one, then “A Dame to Kill For” which makes up the majority of the length, then the conclusion to the second vignette, and finally one more vignette. The first film had multiple setups and each felt like they had a conclusive ending and that they were worthwhile. The writing has some rather bizarre choices in dialogue and plot points, and we are left craving just a little more. One could even suggest that they had simply made “A Dame to Kill For” the only story in the film and focused on that instead of cramming it with extraneous plots.
What the film lacks in its narrative, it makes up in its visual style. The film is fascinating to watch. Its signature black and white style with splashes of color thrown in is just as good as in the original. At times there are some hokey effects and images, but the beautiful blood shed and the little bursts of color here and there make it a visually stunning film.
In the end, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For may not be the movie die-hard fans were expecting. While it does offer a lot of entertainment, it’s lack of cohesion and unnecessary characters way it down from being as good as the first one. So, if you were a fan of the first one, want to see more Jessica Alba dancing, or just want a stylish and violent film, A Dame to Kill For might just be your fix.