Sex, Sin, Slime and Serious Shadows
Sin City Is A Gung Ho Fiesta
By Cole Smithey
"Sin City" is a high contrast tour de force cinematic adaptation of Frank Miller's hugely popular, and wickedly grotesque, graphic-novel-homage to the hardboiled style of Dashell Hammett and Mickey Spillane. Robert Rodriquez teams up with Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino to direct a TKO of a movie that resonates with Tarantino's awe-inspiring "Kill Bill" films. Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Madsen, Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Rosario Dawson, and Jessica Alba are just some of the dream cast-members playing unpredictable characters. Filmed with state-of-the-art special effects, "Sin City" is a lush, stylized, gritty film that weaves together three Frank Miller stories ("The Big Fat Kill," "The Hard Goodbye" and "That Yellow Bastard") with eye-popping results that threaten to addict audiences for repeated viewings.
The pitch-dark shadows that splay across every B&W image in "Sin City" evince a wellspring of emotional depth and cruel intention expressed with markedly non-intrusive voice-over narration by the protagonists of each story. Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is an uncompromising honest cop who does eight-years of hard time for a crime he didn't commit in order to protect a little girl named Nancy after she's kidnapped by the serial rapist son (Nick Stahl) of the town's corrupt Senator (Powers Boothe). Michael Madsen comes up short by giving stilted line readings as Hartigan's corrupt cop partner Bob. His performance stands out like a sore thumb in a movie where every other actor delivers Miller's cynical dialogue with pitch-perfect precision.
Mickey Rourke steals the show as Marv, a virtually indestructible hulk of a bastard addicted to violence, booze, and pills. "Marv was born in the wrong century. He belongs on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody's face." Marv's taste for blood is piqued after the murder of a hooker named Goldie (Jamie King) who showed him one "night of kindness." Marv sets off on an ass-kicking investigation that finds him doing things like dragging a man facedown on the street by one hand as he speeds along in his car with the door open. Once Marv locates his serial-killer prey Kevin--one very tweaky Elijah Wood--it's all about amputation and decapitation. As all action movie fans know, entertainment value goes up eminently whenever decapitation is involved (refer to Sam Peckinpah's "Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia" or Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers" for proof).
Clive Owen rounds out the pulpy noir fun as Dwight, an all around badass who gets caught in an apocalyptic battle between the cops and the mob as the result of a mistaken cop murder performed by the gun-and-sword wielding prostitutes of Old Town. "You've got to prove to your friends you're worth a damn. Sometimes it means dying. Sometimes it means killing a whole lotta people." That's how Dwight explains his philosophy. It's a sentiment that provides a common bond between Hartigan, Marv, and Dwight while imparting a rough-edged view of the nocturnal world of Frank Miller's deadly protagonists.
Where last year's "Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow" rendered flaccid results with its overstated use of green screen CGI technology, "Sin City" uses eye-catching reverse-out negative imagery and significant splashes of color (especially blood-red) to emphasize character traits and show action exactly as Miller originally drew them in his novels. Black and white characters bleed bright white blood from black bullet wounds. The effect facilitates the Miller's sinewy noir-inflected language that hits you like blast of cold air.
Guillermo Del Toro has said that the key to a great comic book movie is that the people executing it, "do it out of passion." There's more than a little of that precious stuff in every frame of "Sin City." It's a film that lives on in your memory like a fantasy nightmare where real living people morph into super-action visions of beguiling elegant brutality.
Rated R. 124 mins. (A) (Five Stars)
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sin City: