Three related stories from Sin City; when Marv (Mickey Rourke), a tougher-than-nails street-fighter, takes home the beautiful Goldie (Jaime King), to have her wind up dead in his bed, he scours the city to avenge the loss of the only drop of love his heart has ever known. Dwight (Clive Owen), is a private investigator perpetually trying to leave trouble behind, even though it won't quit chasing after him. After a cop is killed in Old Town, Dwight will stop at nothing to protect his friends among the ladies of the night. Meanwhile, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the last honest cop in Sin City, has just one hour left before retiring (or dying of a bad heart), and he plans to go out with a bang as he makes a final bid to save an 11 year-old girl from the sadistic son (Elijah Wood) of a Senator (Powers Boothe) . . . with unexpected results.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Robert Rodriguez, a long time fan of Frank Miller's graphic novels, set out to use digital technology as a means of translating the stark, black and white images of the comic into a movie. But instead of the usual adaptation process, he regarded Miller's work as if they were not only the story boards for the film, but the production design and lighting. And sure enough, Miller's writing - which becomes the dialogue and the narration - is as sardonically pulpish as this noir genre demands. His illustrations are sensationally lit; the starkness of the pared down design thrusts every moment of action into the foreground.
The result is a stunning explosion of black and white, with splashes of red. But it's not the blood - although there is some blood that is red - but the odd red dress, the sinful red lipstick ...and the ominous red clouds.
The emotional power of the work is enhanced by the visual power, but it really comes from the characters who live in Sin City. Officially, Basin City, but nobody calls it that. These are people who are either already spiritually dead, morally empty self serving and power hungry, like the Cardinal (Rutger Hauer) and the Senator (Powers Boothe) and the Senator's sadistic cannibal son (Elijah Wood). Or the people who are barely hanging on to some shred of their humanity through love, like Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Dwight (Clive Owen) and Hartigan (Bruce Willis).
These latter men are all steel, grunt-filled machismo on legs, with a heart we can see and hear; or in the case of Marv, a Chesty Bond figure who takes life's blows on his enormous, gnarled chin (and just about everywhere else).
The women are the impossibly curvaceous and beautiful symbols of all that is pure in the world, even though they are either whore or strippers. Hell, this is Sin City, after all. But they are not victims, having struck a deal to run their own street turf. And they police it brutally. As brutally as the men fight for their objectives, usually revenge or greed. Nor is their morality a negative: whoring is well up on the morality ladder compared to what the male characters do.
There is nothing moderate in this world, nothing safe and nothing but pain. Redemption comes at a high price. Some will find the graphic violence, stylised though it is, too confronting. But as a piece of cinema, Sin City is a singular success. . . sinsational.
Review by Louise Keller:
Dripping with style, Sin City is a unique visual feast that thrills, although the insatiable nature of the graphic violence may deter some. Robert Rodriguez's distinctive work bears his hallmark, as it allows Frank Miller's graphic novel to burst into life on the big screen. Everything is oversize - from the nature of the characters to the ferocity of the violence. Black and white images startle with occasional lashings of red. In the attention-grabbing opening sequence when we first glimpse Sin City, a man and a woman are about to embrace. Her lips are scarlet and the dress she wears is one a nice girl would not. But we are given no time to reflect - very quickly the scene is over and we are immersed in a string of action sequences which flow into a narrative. The harshness of red is often a startling slash in otherwise black and white scenes of violence, although blood is not uniquely portrayed as red.
This is a film of extremes. Even the weather is of the all-sorts variety and men and women are stereotypical. The men are as tough as nails, while the women are cheap objects of desire. But the rub comes from the paradox. Some of the men are thugs with illusions of eloquence and Bruce Willis' John Hartigan is a man searching for redemption. Likewise, the scantily clad dames in fishnets, black leather and silver chains are both sex-symbols as well as angels on a pedestal. Thick false lashes and black Sobranies are but adornments. The women are also symbolic of the redemption the men seek. This is the interesting juxtaposition and the key to the film's fascination.
There are three overlapping stories that somehow sit side by side in a circular structure. Standout performances by the ensemble cast include Willis as the John McClane (of Die Hard) of Sin City, Clive Owen as a PI caught in the crossfire and a sensational Mickey Rourke as street-wise tough-guy Marv, who looks somewhat like Mr Incredible, and whose brutish exterior conceals a surprisingly sensitive heart. Then there's Elijah Wood as you've never seen him before, a chilling, cannibalistic low-life, hidden behind oversize, glasses, and a disarmingly evil-looking Benicio Del Toro.
Sin City is a film you won't forget in a hurry. The violence is strictly comic-book style, presented as torrid film-noir action. The characters are shocking and deliver maximum impact, yet the journey for redemption for Willis' Hartigan and Jessica Alba's sweet seductress Nancy, is an unexpectedly touching one. The visuals are extraordinary and Rodriguez has a hand in much of it - from the frenetic score to the super-sharp editing. See it - if you dare!
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SIN CITY (MA15+)
CAST: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Alexis Bledel, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Jaime King, Brittany Murphy, Powers Boothe, Rutger Hauer
PRODUCER: Elizabeth Avellan, Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
DIRECTOR: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez (special guest director - Quentin Tarantino)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Rodriguez
EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez
MUSIC: John Debney, Graeme Revell, Robert Rodriguez
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeanette Scott (Art Direction)
RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 14, 2005