Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – 0 stars

This movie is more than bad. It’s an affront to genre, consistency and common sense. It also represents the end of film as art, the shape of things to come. Just as novels will soon give way to comics, movies will give way to . . . . comics.

The sequel pretends at noir but it has no kinship with it save for a string of laugh-out-loud, hard-bitten lines. The worst of the bunch: “I was born at night. Not last night.” Every single line is like that, played deadly straight, as if writers Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller concluded, “You know! The same idiots who have substituted, you know, books for serialized comics are, like, the ones coming to this stupid movie, so why would we try and, you know, make the dialogue anything more than the drivel in the picture book?”

There are three story lines, each more boring than the last. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hot shot gambler who crosses mean Senator Powers Boothe. Jessica Alba is a stripper who crosses mean Senator Powers Boothe. In between, Josh Brolin (taking over for Clive Owen, who screwed the pooch turning down James Bond but made the right call here) gets double-crossed by his ex-wife, Eva Green. Gordon-Levitt beats 4 Kings with 4 Aces and then, ah, who cares? Alba and Brolin enlist madman Mickey Rourke to get them out of jams. That’s the whole of it, except Lady Gaga pops up as a clichéd waitress, following in Madonna’s footsteps yet again. Blood spatters, bodies are dismembered, the ominous score thuds along, and yawns are stifled.

Nothing makes sense. While Rourke blows up an estate, the guards remain unalerted, the easier to chop their heads off. Green seduces a cop (Christopher Meloni) and enlists a crime boss (Stacey Keach, made to look like an ambulatory Jabba the Hut) to invade the part of Sin City run by armed whores clad in Frederick’s of Hollywood because the girls are hiding Brolin. Both entreaties are awkwardly dropped shortly after their introduction. Brolin, healed by the whores, comes back with a newly reconstructed face to exact revenge, except he looks just like he did before, only with a sprightly toupee.

It’s a nasty, stupid, senseless movie. It’s also a little frightening. The first Sin City was a modest success, grossing $70 million domestic on a $40 million budget. It had the benefits of being unique and a little humor. Almost ten years later, they churn this dour turd out, and the budget is $70 million.

Maybe there is hope in the fact that it is getting killed at the box office ($11 million and trickling) but something tells me the Chinese will bail it out.

Death is just like life in Sin City. It always wins.

Actual line.

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