Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, Elijah Wood and Bruce Willis
Plot: Sin City follows the story of Marv (Rourke) tracking down the killer of a girl who came to him for help, Dwight (Owen) trying to keep the peace between the police and hookers of the city and Hartigan (Willis), the one man who can pretend Nancy (Alba) from a deadly sex offender.
This movie is not for everyone. It is all about style and breezes over its plot so quickly that it needs three separate stories to keep it at a feature-length running time. It features bloody violence and the anti-heroes of the piece take enough damage to kill John McClane three times over. Yes, a lot of this film’s content will go right over the heads of newcomers to the genre. Yet, personally, I think Sin City is one of the most exciting things to come out of cinema in a long time.
Sin City is based on a comic book franchise for Batman legend, Frank Miller. When even Batman wasn’t dark enough for Miller to take his gritty imagination to the next level, Miller weaved these comics, each one telling a dark, despairing tale of crime, a lack of justice and larger than life characters. If you are familiar with these comics, then this movie will have no surprises in store for you. Miller lifts each frame of this movie from his comics, bringing the characters directly onto the big screen from the source material. The end result is an artistically breath-taking piece of cinema, boasting black and white noir vignettes with a dash of colour thrown in when necessary (the green eyes of a femme fatale, the blood of a victim). This is the Noir genre has you have never seen it before and if you can keep up with the pace and handle the tone, you will instantly fall in love with this movie.
Despite this film focusing on style rather than substance, it is quite surprising that Frank Miller has time to fit in as many unique characters as he does. There isn’t really any new, original noir heroes to follow (Miller builds this world out of clichés and Noir trademarks after all), yet the story takes them to places, where they get developed remarkable well. Marv is the hulking thug of Sin City, gentle-hearted, yet so terrifying to look at that few come near him. Mickey Rourke, making a comeback to acting with this and a few other roles, is the star of the movie here, really pulling at the heartstrings. He may be a brute, but he is helplessly loyal to those that he is close to. The entire storyline Marv follows revolves around him avenging a girl he only just met, that ‘treated him right’. Clive Owen might not be the best actor in the world, but Dwight is the kind of role even he can keep up with. He just has to look dangerous enough and the script does the rest. Then we have Bruce Willis’s ageing cop, who goes to shocking lengths to protect the girl he swore to rescue from the Senator’s deranged son. This might seem like a dumb action thriller, but there is heart here and that is the quality of the film that keeps you hooked, until the final frame of the movie.
On top of the leads, you will see a lot more famous faces popping in and out of the film. Because Sin City travels at such a fast pace and is mostly shot in front of a green scene, I imagine that the supporting cast don’t need to put that many hours into the production of the film. That’s why we get some terrific cameos. Fresh from Lord of the Rings, Elijah Wood completely changes his nervous schoolboy image by embodying the creepiest character of the film. Benicio Del Toro is great to watch as Jackie Boy, the creep who beats on the city’s hookers. It is a role that I reckon Del Toro should look into, as I would love to see him in a more generic action thriller with this type of character. A fan favourite is likely to be Devon Aoki, as the fearsome samurai-prostitute (yes, that is the best job in the world). She racks up the bloody kill count, matching her male co-stars blow for blow. There are so many colourful, memorable characters in this film, it is impossible to mention them all. Rodriguez and Miller work wonders to give them all the development they deserve.
This film is a marmite movie. A lot of audiences will wonder where the hell this film is coming from, but personally, I respect it for coming up with something we have never seen before. More stylish than Pulp Fiction, more depth than 300, this movie is a must for fans of out-there movies, but want to satisfy their bloody, action cravings at the same time.
Final Verdict: Every frame, character and line is moulded to perfection. Likely to split audience down the middle, but I know which side I am falling on.
Weird but very fun, like the comic 😀
This one is one of my favourites. 🙂
Good film and review! I’m always a fan of style over substance and this has plenty of the former. Hoping the sequel lives up to the first film.
You know what… I don’t think it will. Sin City is awesome, because of the originality. However, I’d be happy with the same style, even if its just another three (or four, I think is rumoured) stories.
Excellent review Luke, such a visually inventive and utterly striking movie.