crime, movie, movie review, thriller

September 11th, 2017 Movie – Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

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Whenever I think of this movie, the phrase “Strike while the iron is hot” always comes to mind. Now I know the literal meaning of the phrase has to do with smithing and metal working but it also has come to mean take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. In Hollywood, this means that if you have a successful movie, you should try and do a sequel fairly quickly in order to take advantage of people’s liking the first movie enough that they would want to see the sequel. In regards to today’s movie, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, several reasons kept this movie from being filmed immediately after, which probably contributed to it’s failure at the box office.

The plot: [Just Another Saturday Night] Marv crawls out from a car wreck and has no memory of how he got there. After taking his medicine, he examines himself and finds a bullet wound in his arm that he figures is an hour old and the body of a frat boy nearby but he still can’t remember anything. Trying to recall his steps, Marv realizes that since it was Saturday night, he had probably started the night at Kadie’s, watching Nancy dance. After leaving there, he was drinking in an alley when he caught four frat boys setting winos on fire. When he confronts them, one of the boys tells him to mind his own business, calling him “Bernini Boy” but Marv mishears it as Bernie, then shoots him in the shoulder. When Marv continues to move towards them, the boys run to their car and Marv jumps onto the side as they drive off but ends up being slammed into a police car. Marv smashes through the windshield and throws the cops out of the car, then proceeds to keep the frat boys from returning to the university, forcing them up the hill towards the projects, where he finally crashes his car into them. Marv sees another frat boy close to death nearby and stomps on his throat to kill him, then heads after the remaining two boys. As Marv enters The Projects, the two remaining boys are on a rooftop watching him and the one with the gun takes aim at Marv. Before he can shoot, several arrows whip by them and land at Marv’s feet. Marv signals “his old neighbors” to remind them who he is, then has them shoot the two boys. instead. Making his way to the roof, Marv has his old neighbors kill one of the boys, then asks the boy who shot him why he called him Bernie. The boy explains that Bernini is the brand of coat he has on and Marv thanks him, then yells out for a knife, which he uses to slit the boy’s throat. As Marv comments on how nice the coat is, he wonders where he got it, as well as the gloves he is wearing, but he can’t remember.
[The Long Bad Night: Part 1] A young gambler named Johnny arrives at Kadie’s and after flirting with a waitress named Marcie, has her accompany him to the slot machines. After he hits a jackpot, he asks another waitress where the “real action” is and is directed to the back of the bar, where Senator Roark runs a poker game. Hitting the jackpot on another slot machine, he takes Marcie with him as a good luck charm and heads to the back to buy into the poker game. Roark allows him to play and as they are playing, none of them are aware of Nancy watching them from a hole in the wall, her attention focused solely on Roark as she aims the gun from her act at him. Johnny ends up winning everyone’s money and after collecting his winnings, he goes to leave. One of the players, who is a cop, warns him to get out of town but Johnny says that he can’t miss tomorrow’s game then gets in his car with Marcie and heads out on the town. Inside the club, Nancy is starting her act on stage but she has become a drunk after Hartigan’s death. Hartigan’s ghost enters the bar and watches as Nancy points her gun at Roark as he is leaving, then at herself, and comments that one day she will pull the trigger and begs her not to take revenge for him but to live her life. Meanwhile, Johnny and MArcie are enjoying themselves when all of his credit cards are suddenly declined. As Johnny walks Marcie back home, he notices two men following them and he quickly beats them down before they can jump him. Seeing a limo pulling up, he tells Marcie to meet him at his hotel, then gets in the limo, where Roark is waiting for him. Roark says that Johnny embarrassed him and so in retaliation, he has his men use a pair of pliers to break the fingers in Johnny’s playing hand and then throws him from the limo. He then gets out and shoots him in the leg. Roark then tells him that he recognizes Johnny as one of his illegitimate sons but tells him that he only had one son, Roark Junior, and he would never claim Johnny. Roark leaves Johnny lying there and Johnny swears revenge on Roark.
{A Dame To Kill For] (This story takes place before the events of The Big Fat Kill) Dwight McCarthy is trying to put his violent past behind him and make a living as a private detective and taking pictures of a businessman named Joey having sex with a hooker named Sally. After they finish, Dwight goes to leave but when he sees Joey is about to kill Sally, Dwight saves her and takes her back to Old Town, then heads back to his office to develop the pictures. After taking them to his client, he returns home only to get a call from Ava, his former lover, who asks him to meet her. Dwight knows he shouldn’t, but he goes to the saloon to meet with Ava, who begs for his forgiveness. When Manute appears to take Ava home, Dwight starts to stand up to him, prompting Marv to offer his aid if needed, but Ava tells Dwight it is too late for her and she leaves with Manute. Dwight gets worried so he heads to the mansion Ava lives in and sneaks onto the grounds. He sees Ava skinny dipping in her pool and comments on how she doesn’t looked abused when the mansion’s security catch him. Ava apologizes to Dwight and heads inside while Manute proceeds to beat Dwight into unconsciousness. Dwight is thrown out of a car in front of his place and he is surprised to find his car there. When he heads inside, he finds a naked Ava waiting for him and tries to get her to leave but she refuses and ends up seducing him into bed. After they have sex, Dwight asks her to tell him what is going on and she tells him about her husband Damien and how he and Manute torture her and she knows one day they will kill her. When Manute shows up to take her back, Dwight tries punching him but he has no effect and Manute punches him out of his window, then escorts Manute back to the mansion. Dwight heads to Kadie’s and recruits Marv to help him and they head for the mansion. When they get there, they split up, with Marv taking out the guards and then battling Manute, beating him and taking out one of his eyes. Meanwhile, Dwight makes his way inside and confronts Damien, who tells Dwight that he is being lied to by Ava. When Damien pulls out a gun, Dwight punches him and accidentally kills him. Ava then reveals that she tricked Dwight into killing Damien so she could have all of his money, then shoots him several times, eventually knocking him out a window. Marv grabs Dwight’s body and makes their escape, with Dwight telling him to head to Old Town. When they get there, Gail is upset that they had cops following them into Old Town but when Dwight calls out her name, Gail rushes to his side and has Miho get some help. Back at the mansion, Ava is talking to two detectives, Mort and Bob, about what happened and starts seducing Mort, who calls her later that night and she continues to seduce him, convincing him to come to the mansion. Back in Old Town, Dwight regains consciousness and Gail tells him that the cops are looking for him but they will take care of that. When Goldie and Wendy show up and want to kick Dwight out of Old Town, threatening to have Miho kill him, Gail tells them that Dwight stays and tells Miho that she owes her life to Dwight, causing her to sheath her sword. Meanwhile, Mort is falling in love with Ava, though his partner tries to convince him she is up to no good. Dwight undergoes facial reconstruction and while he is still bandaged up, he pays a visit to Manute’s hospital room and warns him to stay out of his way. Meanwhile, Mort is heading to Old Town to get Dwight and when Bob tells him to turn the car around, Mort kills him, then comes to his senses and kills himself as well. Ava has a dinner party and speaks with mob boss Wallenquist to try and make a deal to control Old Town and Wallenquist says he has a specialist from Texas that he can bring in. Manute meets the specialist at the train station but the specialist, who is really Dwight with a new face, says he has his own ride as a disguised Gail pulls up and they follow Manute to Ava’s mansion. When they get there, Manute leads Dwight away from Gail and has him searched, then says he recognized Dwight and takes him to see Ava. Outside, Gail lets Miho out of the trunk of the car and they begin killing all of the guards. Meanwhile, Dwight pulls out a hidden revolver and shoots Manute with it but when he doesn’t kill him, starts fighting with him until Ava grabs one of Manute’s guns and proceeds to shoot him with it. Ava then approaches Dwight and tries to seduce him again but as she kisses him, Dwight shoots her, then holds her as she dies.
[The Long Bad Night: Part 2] Johnny goes to see Kroenig, an unlicensed doctor, and has him do what he can to tend to his injuries. As he heads back to his hotel, he worries about Marcie and Roark possibly going after her. Sneaking in through the window, he finds Roark waiting for him and his men show him the dismembered corpse of Marcie. Roark threatens to shoot Johnny, causing Johnny to jump back out the window, but Roark tells him he likes seeing Johnny in this condition. Trying to figure out his next move, Johnny heads to a diner and a waitress takes pity on him and give him a dollar, which he then uses back at Kadie’s to play the slot machines and win some more money. Taking his winnings, Johnny buys back into the poker game but he ends up folding his first couple of hands, prompting Roark to taunt him. When Johnny goes all in on a hand, Roark calls him and Johnny ends up winning, then tells Roark that he beat him twice, and people will always remember that, prompting Roark to shoot him and then tell his men to get rid of the body so they can keep playing.
[Nancy’s Last Dance] Nancy goes to visit Hartigan’s grave and lay some flowers on it, unaware that she is being followed. The police lieutenant that was following her reports his findings to Roark and tells him about Nancy’s actions but Roark is dismissive of it and says that she can drown in her own sorrows. Meanwhile, Nancy continues her downward spiral since Hartigan died and Hartigan’s ghost continues to watch as she blames him for leaving her alone. Nancy cuts her hair and heads to Kadie’s to do her act, making it more sexual than normal, which causes Marv to worry about her and leave. After her act, Nancy smashes the mirror, then uses a shard to start cutting up her face. The next day, Marv enters the club and when he sees Nancy’s face, asks her who did it and she tells him Roark. The two leave, taking out some bikers in order to her their weapons, and then head for Roark’s mansion. Nancy works on taking out the perimeter guards while Marv heads onto the grounds and deals with the guards inside. When Nancy enters the mansion, she finds a wounded Marv kneeling at the top of the stairs and quickly kills the last guard, then gives Marv a cigarette and tells him to rest. She heads to Roark’s office and shoots at him but only hits a mirror casting his reflection, while the real Roark shoots her. Roark then taunts her by shooting the gun out of her reach and shooting her in the leg before going to finish her off. Suddenly, Roark sees Hartigan in the mirror and turns to look for him and when he turns back around, Nancy had managed to grab her gun and shoots him in the shoulder, then approaches him and finishes him off.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For met with mixed to negative reaction from the critics, holding a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A Dame to Kill For boasts the same stylish violence and striking visual palette as the original Sin City, but lacks its predecessor’s brutal impact.” The movie was a mixture of original “Sin City” stories (“A Dame To Kill For” & “Just Another Saturday Night”) as well as two new stories (“The Long Bad Night” & “Nancy’s Last Dance”), which were written exclusively for the film. Although the character of Shellie played a part in the story “A Dame To Kill For”, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez decided to retire her in the film version in respects to the late Brittany Murphy, who played her in the original movie, but they could not do the same for Manute’s character, as he played too big a role in the story. The movie was a box office bomb, only pulling in $39.4 million off of a  $65 million budget.

The sequel curse definitely hit this movie but this is still a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Mickey Rourke (Marv), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Josh Brolin (Dwight), and Powers Boothe (Roark) doing a good job in their roles. I also liked Dennis Haysbert, who did a good job in taking up the role of Manute following Michael Clarke Duncan’s death. The two stories that were already written were great and I did like the new story “The Long Bad Night” and while I did think it was interesting to see the effect Hartigan’s death had on Nancy, I thought the “Nancy’s Last Dance” story felt too much like a fan service fluff piece in order to appease fans who wanted to see more of Jessica Alba. The film technique and special effects were just as good as the original movie and the occasional bits of color really added to the visual aspect of the movie. Not as good as the original but definitely a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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