“When things get loud I can use the guns,” says Hartigan in the original Sin City, and that was pretty much it’s mission statement. It was unapologetically loud, hard boiled and over-egged. Yet there was something starkly refreshing about it in 2005. Amongst a year that saw Fantastic Four, Batman Begins and V for Vendetta, here was a comic book adaptation that put it’s monotone balls right out there and dared you to not look away. There was nothing quite like it. In a world where guys are tough and gals are tougher Sin City hearkened back to Chandler and was a hellish noir that no one seemed prepared for. However, it didn't stop the majority from enjoying the hyper-real fisty-cuffs and splashes of colour.
Sin City 2 benefits from the set-up it predecessor gave by introducing Basin City and it’s populace. Even the delivery of lines in the original could be a little jarring and hammed-up, but having experienced and expected it this time around, it’s like putting on an old pair of boots. Except that this pair have the same feel, yet seem updated somehow. They’re a little prettier and slicker.
There’s no doubt that the original Sin City didn’t exactly suffer from the technology of it’s time. “Keep it simple,” seemed to be the ethos and it worked a chrome-plated treat. What Sin City 2 has going for it, is that it’s cleaner and crisper in it’s aesthetic now that green screening and effects have surged forward. Fret not, though; Basin City is still the dirty, grimy, sweaty place it’s always been.
This is in no small part to the commitment of Rodriguez and Miller to deliver the same unflinching view of the the original books and make sure they cast those that are happy to be along for the ride. There’s as many of the cast from the original they could get, Marv and Nancy are still the lynch-pins of the interweaving stories - played pitch perfectly again by Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba respectively. The only difference being that Marv has noticeably aged in spite of the heavy make-up. Even Bruce Willis turns up to play a phantom Hartigan.
The new cast are equally happy to take the plunge. Kudos, it must be said, to Eva Green for not only playing the the quintessential Femme Fatale, but for doing so without a stitch for the majority of her screen time. She's able to convincingly switch between damaged dame and inscrutable manipulator – Truly a Dame to Kill For.
Josh Brolin is great to watch. Lending his gravely tones to Dwight McCarthy’s early outings. It has to be said, that Clive Owen’s interpretation and Josh Brolin's don't quite match. That being said, Brolin gives the tough guy just the right amount of humanity, so you side with him regardless of the bad decisions you know he’s making.
Joseph Gordon Levitt, too, gives a great performance as swaggering lucky man. You won’t be able to stop yourself relishing his tricks and snappy-come-backs.
It’s hard to believe that with everything Sin City 2 has to offer you’re left a little unsatisfied come curtain call. Scene-chomping acting and directional gusto is what’s needed from a film with such an uncompromising vision, but following the same template with 3 stories that are introduced and then picked up again later, mean the interest is peaked and then removed. The last story is as much of a blast as the others, but the momentum is gone, lost amongst the bravado and uber-violence.
The flick is not poorly made and great pain has been taken to balance them out, but with the sheer volume of the events that are covered, Sin City may have benefited from less stories with more detail.
3* – Booze, Broads, & Bullets