It’s been nine long years since we last took a trip into the decrepit streets of Sin City, with a film that reinvented the neo-noir genre, bringing Frank Miller’s graphic novels to the big screen in remarkable fashion. However now that such a stylistic approach is no longer a novelty, Miller and co-director Robert Rodriguez need to ensure the narrative is compelling enough to justify this eagerly anticipated sequel. However that’s exactly where A Dame to Kill For struggles.
As we catch up with the city’s most notorious, hard-boiled residents, such as Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Nancy (Jessica Alba), it’s the new inhabitants who are now on the bloody path to vengeance. Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a score to settle with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), while the unforgiving presence of Dwight (Josh Brolin) is one that looms menacingly over the beguiling, vindictive seductress Ava (Eva Green), as our characters become entangled and embroiled in a bleak and murky set of events that sweep across this Goddamn city.
There’s an unflinching, brooding atmosphere which immerses in this world yet again. The aesthetic is unforgettable and even more impressive than the first – in spite of the somewhat redundant use of 3D technology. Yet the way the colour of blood plays against the monochrome background makes for a visual experience like no other, while the stylistic, cartoon-like approach detracts from the severity of the immense brutality that exists, taking what is an extremely violent endeavour, and making it seem almost playful. However sadly the narrative is no match for the mesmerising ambiance, making this a film that truly is all style and very little substance.
The host of new characters all inject some life into proceedings, and there should be enough here to appease fans of the franchise – in spite of the rather humourless approach taken this time around. But the way this tale is set across such a brief period of time just gives off the impression that nothing has changed in Sin City, as we’re merely viewing a slice of life in this environment, and we could have picked any other night and there would still be the same level of barbaric conflict. That being said, it would not be the end of the world if this was the final night we peered into this deranged society, because as entertaining as it may be, a third trip just doesn’t feel necessary.