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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wages of Sin

Nearly a decade after their original pulp noir masterpiece, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller invite us back to the seedy underbelly of hell that is Basin City in 'Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for.'   Like its predecessor, SC2 is an anthology of interrelated stories in the best traditions of pulp fiction, the most memorable of which is the titular episode 'A Dame to Kill for.'

SC2 is as gritty, stylish and ├╝ber-violent as 'Sin City,' populated with colorful (figuratively speaking of course) and fascinating characters both innocent and evil.  There's Marv (Mickey Rourke), the beast to Nancy's beauty who embraced his inner monster and Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the lucky gambler who just didn't know when to quit.  There's also Dwight (Josh Brolin taking over from Clive Owen), who tried to resist the wiles of the scheming Ava (Eva Green as 'the Dame to Kill for') and Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba looking as yowza as ever), the revenge-obsessed stripper haunted by the ghost of her late protector, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis).  Notable also are Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Gail, the leader of a bevy of femmes fatale in downtown Sin City, Jamie Chung filling in for Devon Aoki as the ninja assassin Miho and Dennis Haysbert as Manute, the brute enforcer previously played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan.
While the interweaving vignettes in the slower burning SC2 taken as a whole aren't as maniacally fun as the original 'Sin City' (who can forget Elijah Wood's gleeful Kevin or Nick Stahl's 'Yellow Bastard'?), the movie still more than holds its own as a brilliant piece of pulp noir that is as mesmerizing as it is compelling, with anti-heroes rendered in stark black-and-white splashed with the occasional color.   SC2 will most likely suffer at the box-office for its 'sins,' among which include an unabashed lack of political correctness, exploitation of women plus copious amounts of sex and violence, but for long suffering fans of  a 'Sin City' sequel we got exactly what we wanted.
Grade: A

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