If you’ve seen the original Sin City (2005), then you’ll know exactly what to expect from the sequel, A Dame to Kill For. While two of the stories are from the 20 year old comic book series, two have been penned by series creator Frank Miller for the film. Though this is weaker than the original, it’s still a worthy sequel, though with problems.
Like the original, there’s three primary tales, edited into book-ending segments, with an opening short story. “A Dame to Kill For” was the second Sin City volume, while “Just Another Saturday Night” was a short story from volume six, “Booze, Broads, & Bullets.” “The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance” were original tales, though largely boring, dragging the movie down. The signature visual style was once again on display, and was as sharp as ever. That aspect alone made this more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been, looking like a comic come to life with sharp flashes of color. Even with this, by the end, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over.
Saturday Night was a short story featuring Marv (Mickey Rourke) and was a descent bridge back into this world. It was mildly entertaining, wisely giving Rourke more screen time. Dame however, was the anchor the of the film, and strongest story by far, starring Josh Brolin as Dwight McCarthy (replacing Clive Owen) and Eva Green as the titular dame, Ava. The performances were sold, though the writing was a bit heavy handed initially. Then again, I suppose it always ways. Green is nude for half her screen time (not an exaggeration). Not a complaint as it makes story sense, just a warning. I was hoping Owen would popup at a certain point, but he didn’t. Still, Dame was the best vignette.
“The Long Bad Night” had a few problems, particularly with the ending, though was mostly salvaged by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played protagonist Johnny. I didn’t understand the point of the story. Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) was a poor loser? What was Johnny’s purpose? He wanted to beat him and that’s it? If it wasn’t for Gordon-Levitt, this segment would have been worse than it was. Christopher Lloyd had an odd cameo as well.
The last story, “Nancy’s Last Dance,” was terrible. Nancy’s (Jessica Alba) self destructive path was overdone. Many of her lines, such as when she was watching TV, were eye rolling. Her character arc was strange. She couldn’t bring herself to kill Roark, but had no qualms murdering countless body guards. And where do you get a self reloading crossbow, that apparently only needs to be cocked? I think the crossbow pissed me off more than anything. Plus, this introduced some continuity errors into Marv’s story from the original. This seemed constructed to give Alba screen time.
The only thing that failed in the sequel was the writing. The direction and aesthetics were astounding, and performances solid. Frank Miller is not the same caliber writer he once was. As a writer, I’ve found it difficult to return to a projects if I’ve let them sit for too long. I couldn’t imagine delving back into something I’ve written 20 years ago.
If you enjoyed the original, Dame will be an entertaining follow-up, at least for the titular story. Beyond that, your mileage may vary. If you didn’t like the first, or only found it mildly entertaining, there’s nothing here that will change your mind. This is at least worth a rental for Dame alone.
Did the original vignettes fail for you? Find the writing too heavy handed? Comment below!
Willis cameo wasted.