Dirtier than Gotham, more corrupt than Metropolis and a whole lot more tawdry than Manhattan, from the darkest corners of Frank Miller’s imagination comes Sin City. Based on his comics and graphic novels, the city leaps from the page to create a ruthless film about a land where evil rules.
A city full of dirty cops, prostitutes and violence is the basis for Sin City.
This is not an average civilized town. The city is explored through the narration of three main characters. The first plot which unfolds is the story of Marv (Mickey Rourke). Marv is devastated that someone has killed his lover, Goldie (Jamie King), and decides to take justice into his own hands.
A second plot develops with Shellie (Brittany Murphy), a cocktail waitress at a seedy club, trying to avoid her abusive sometimes-boyfriend, Jack Rafferty (Benicio Del Toro). Her current boyfriend Dwight (Clive Owen) follows Jack into the unprotected area of town to make sure that he never messes with Shellie again. In this area, the prostitutes are the law and trouble begins to brew as soon as Jack enters their turf.
The final plot is alluded to at the beginning of the film. Good cop John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) attempts to “tie up the loose ends” of his career before retirement by saving a young girl from a merciless killer. The girl, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), becomes eternally indebted to John for his sacrifice.
The plot of the film does not become entirely cohesive until its conclusion. Perhaps the idea of “Guest Director” Quentin Tarantino was to scatter the order of the film. Like Pulp Fiction, the full picture of how all the characters and their sagas fit together is not revealed until the final sequences.
Sin City’s plot is heavy with sexism, extreme violence and harsh language. Most of the women are depicted as prostitutes or participants of other unsavory occupations. Also, throughout the film, every female form is covered by little more than a bra and panties.
The film is almost entirely in black and while with occasional pops of color, the most frequent of which is red. Red blood oozes from multiple victims. Black and white often switches to a silhouette when the violence becomes too graphic, but the idea is still haunting. Blue, green and yellow are introduced rarely and with purpose. The directors obviously wanted to make Sin City such a surreal world to lessen the intensity of the violence. Tarantino used a similar tactic in the Kill Bill films by making the violence so over the top that it could not be real.
The film was nearly all digitally shot to form the gloomy underworld into the stylish image of Miller’s creation. Many of the characters use prosthetics and heavy makeup to become more caricature-like in appearance. The film feels animated, but has eerie touches of reality.,
For a film of this nature, the performances are surprisingly good. The male characters all have a deep, gravely voice and an intensity that works in the film’s setting. The females are a motley group, some being the damsels in distress and others tough-as-nails hookers. Rosario Dawson is unnervingly sexy and fierce as the leader of the brothel area of town.
The grand setting, graphic violence and talented cast make a film that is certainly new and original.
In a Hollywood of recycled scripts, Sin City pushes the edges and dares to be different. It is not the most relaxing movie experience and is not for those with a weak stomach. It is, however, a flashy, sharp and clever dose of modern film noir.
Action, R, Running time: 126 min.