The depraved and despicable side of the human condition is resplendently decked out in Robert Rodriguez’s sexy revenge fantasy. The monochromatic palette with some color gives the film its unique being-inside-a-graphic-novel feel.
Based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Frank Miller, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For cuts between three stories that are linked by overlapping characters. The first follows Marv (Mickey Rourke), a hard-boiled hitman, and Dwight (Josh Brolin), a private detective trying to overcome his demons. Dwight is contacted by his devastatingly beautiful former lover Ava (Eva Green), who begs him to come back to her.
The second vignette stars Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as a cocky young gambler who ignites the fury of the most powerful man in town, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), by winning big at the big boss’s nightly poker games.
The third tale is that of Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), who is struggling to deal with the death of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the police officer who saved her when she was young (this story is covered in the first film). The story picks up four years later, and Nancy has turned into a depressed alcoholic who plots to kill the man who drove Hartigan to his death.
A Dame to Kill For is a pastiche of the classic noir style where morally ambiguous men have have hearts of gold and where the women are damsels in distress. The film, however, manages to subvert these archetypes and is a fun ride. The ensemble cast delivers good performances with tons of cameos thrown in for good measure.
A word of caution: If you are squeamish, the violence and gore will bother you. But if you are a fan of Rodriguez’s gimmicky filmmaking style, you will love this one.