Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

“Just Another Saturday Night”

Marv (Mickey Rourke) regains consciousness on a highway overlooking The Projects, surrounded by several dead young men and a crashed police car, and with no memory of how he got there. He retraces his steps, recalling that since it’s Saturday, he watched Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) dance at Kadie’s Saloon. Stepping outside, he encounters four rich frat boys burning a homeless man alive. When Marv intervenes, the leader of the frat boys shoots him in the arm, calling him “Bernini Boy,” which Marv mishears as “Bernie.” They flee; Marv follows, stealing a police car on the way, which he crashes into their car, leading to his blackout and memory loss. He follows the two surviving frat boys into The Projects, the neighborhood where he grew up. With the assistance of the deadly residents lurking in the shadows, he dispatches the frat boys. He questions the leader about being called “Bernini Boy” and learns that it is the brand of coat he is wearing. After slitting the boy’s throat, he considers his coat and realizes he can’t remember how he acquired it.

“The Long Bad Night (Part I)”

Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a cocky young gambler, arrives in Sin City and heads to Kadie’s place, where he immediately hits the jackpot on multiple slot machines. Taking a young waitress, Marcie (Julia Garner), with him as a good luck charm, he buys into the backroom poker game led by the all-powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Johnny repeatedly wins in the high-stakes game, and cleans the senator out. One other player, the corrupt police lieutenant Liebowitz (Jude Ciccolella), warns him to flee the city, but instead Johnny takes Marcie out for a night on the town. He walks her home when Roark’s goons suddenly attack him. He fights them off and tells Marcie to meet him at a hotel before he is escorted into the Senator’s waiting limousine. In payment for the humiliation he suffered at the card game, Roark takes back his money and uses a pair of pliers to break the fingers of Johnny’s playing hand. They toss him from the car, and the Senator shoots Johnny in the leg. Roark then reveals that he recognized Johnny as his illegitimate son. However, he remarks that he only considered his dead son Roark Jr. his flesh and blood. He leaves Johnny alive, preferring to let him suffer, and Johnny swears revenge.

“A Dame to Kill For”

Years before “The Big Fat Kill”, Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) attempts to put his violent past behind him, working as a private detective and leading a life of complete sobriety, struggling daily to refuse his inner demons. After saving the life of Sally (Juno Temple), a hooker who is nearly murdered by her businessman lover (Ray Liotta), he receives an unexpected phone call from his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green), who left Dwight four years prior for a wealthy tycoon, Damien Lord (Marton Csokas). She begs him to meet her at Kadie’s saloon, and despite his embittered feelings, he agrees. When Ava arrives, she begs forgiveness for leaving him, and implies she is afraid for her life before her massive chauffeur, Manute (Dennis Haysbert), arrives to escort her home. Unable to get her out of his mind, Dwight sneaks into Damien Lord’s estate, where he observes Ava swimming, but is caught and beaten. Dwight is returned home, where a nude Ava waits for him. He tries to throw her out, but can’t resist her and they make love. She tells him that Damien and Manute torture her physically and mentally, and she knows Damien will kill her soon. Manute arrives and viciously beats a naked Dwight, sending him out the window with a single punch.

Determined to rescue Ava, Dwight recruits Marv to help him, and they mount an assault on Lord’s compound. Marv attacks Manute, putting him in traction and tearing out his eye. Dwight confronts Damien Lord, who denies Ava’s accusations, and an enraged Dwight beats him to death. As he reacts in horror, Ava appears and shoots Dwight several times, taunting him and thanking him for helping her murder her husband and take over his fortune. She shoots him in the face and forces him to fall out of a window, where Marv rescues him and takes him to Old Town. Dwight’s old flame, Gail (Rosario Dawson), recognizes him and saves his life. With the help of Gail and the deadly assassin Miho (Jamie Chung), Dwight undergoes reconstructive surgery on his face and plots his revenge.

Meanwhile, two detectives, Mort (Christopher Meloni) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), investigate Damien’s death. Ava claims Dwight was an obsessive ex-lover, and he killed her husband in a jealous rage. Bob is skeptical but Ava seduces Mort, who believes her every word. They begin an affair and Ava pressures him to find and kill Dwight. When Mort, obsessed with Ava, attempts to track Dwight down in Old Town (an action that would break the truce between the police and the prostitutes), Bob attempts to stop him. An enraged Mort shoots Bob in the face, then commits suicide afterward. Out of options, Ava reluctantly partners with the mob boss Wallenquist (Stacy Keach).

Dwight (with his reconstructed new face), accompanied by Gail and Miho, poses as Wallenquist’s man from Texas. Inside Ava’s estate, however, Manute sees past the new face and captures Dwight. Gail and Miho strike from Dwight’s car, and Dwight shoots Manute with a hidden .45 he had up his left sleeve. Six bullets fail to kill him, and Manute aims shakily at Dwight as Ava unexpectedly grabs one of Manute’s guns, shooting Manute several times. She attempts to convince Dwight to pair with her, and that the pain he suffered revealed his true intentions, but Dwight shoots her mid-kiss, and she dies in his arms.

“The Long Bad Night (Part II)”

Johnny visits an unlicensed doctor, Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd), who shoots up heroin before trading his services for Johnny’s last $40 and his shoes. Realizing he left Marcie unprotected, Johnny rushes to his hotel but finds the Senator waiting for him, along with Marcie’s dismembered head and hands. Again, the senator lets him go. Intent on taking down Roark, Johnny scrounges a dollar from a sympathetic waitress (Lady Gaga) which he uses to regain enough money playing slots to buy his way into Roark’s game the following night. Playing a card shark’s con, Johnny folds his first few hands, allowing Roark to taunt him about his dead mother. He once again cons Roark into going all in, then reveals his winning hand. Johnny taunts his father, reminding him that tonight’s story of how the same man beat him twice will follow him for the rest of his life. His vengeance completed, Johnny smiles resignedly, a single tear running down his face as Roark shoots him in the head, commanding his men to get rid of the body.

“Nancy’s Last Dance”

Four years after “That Yellow Bastard”,” Nancy Callahan is in a deep depression over John Hartigan’s death. She is obsessed with getting revenge on Senator Roark for having driven Hartigan to kill himself. As she wallows in despair, the ghost of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) watches over her, unable to reach her but still attempting to help. On the same night that Johnny joins the backroom poker game, Nancy attempts to shoot Roark from the stage of Kadie’s, but she can’t bring herself to pull the trigger.

Nancy hallucinates a visit from Roark, and shortly thereafter cuts her hair and smashes a mirror, using its shards to cut her face. She decides to get Marv to help her kill Roark by showing him the scars and making him believe that Roark was responsible. As they step out of the club, they meet a motorcycle gang there to shoot up the place. Marv kills two but leaves their leader for Nancy to finish off. The pair mount an assault on Roark’s compound: Marv slaughters Roark’s bodyguards while Nancy picks off the guards with a crossbow. Marv is wounded, but Nancy continues on alone to confront Roark. Roark shoots her first in the side, then the leg, and is about to finish her off. Suddenly, Hartigan’s ghost appears in the mirror—startling Roark long enough for Nancy to recover and kill him.


What say we return to the streets of Basin City with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For? It has been a few years since the first film and there are two things that immediately pop into my head. What took so long and why now? I’m sure as I watch this film other queries will arise, so let’s see if this is worth staying in on a humid summer Wednesday night, shall we?

What is this about?

Cornering the market on sex and blackmail, Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) matches rich men with prostitutes before snapping their photographs and selling the pictures to their wives — but he’d give anything to go legit.

What did I like?

Goddess. I am a straight, red-blooded, male, so it should come as no surprise that I found Eva Green to be extremely attractive in her segment of this film. However, it takes some guts to spend most of the time in various states of undress. With a body like hers, though, can you blame her? If they ever do a movie on the Greek/Roman gods, she needs to be cast, or at least considered for the role of Venus/Aphrodite. Now, putting aside her most perfect body, the segment itself is the most fleshed out part of the film, hence the reason it is the title’s namesake, I’d imagine. I was enthralled watching, waiting to see what other kind of treachery, deceit, murder, and whatnot would transpire.

Violence. In Sin City, there was quite a bit of violence. People were shot, decapitated, maimed, etc, all in the glorious, and unique, black and white aesthetic this film uses. Keeping with that motif, the filmmakers kept it going this time, rather than falling in the trap of making this look like a “regular” flick and, because of this, the violence contained in this picture appears to have that much more of an impact.

Connective tissue. Nearly 10 years ago, the original film was released. Unless you are one of those people who watches it on a loop and has every line memorized, then it is a sure bet that you don’t have the events fresh in your mind. Thankfully, the filmmakers kept this in mind and threw in some flashbacks and reminders for us. So many times, films that are released many years after the original just assume we remember everything, which is rarely the case!

What didn’t I like?

Indestructible. It was brought to my attention that one of the major characters, Marv, is nigh indestructible. What’s wrong with that? Well, the same thing that the current society has with Superman. He comes off as too powerful, even when he shows signs of humanity. There is also the little fact that Marv’s indestructibility is never explained. He just…is.

Identity crisis. In a bit of confusion regarding the timeline of these two films, we get a prequel to the character of Dwight McCarthy, Manute, Olde Town, etc. My issue with this has to do with casting. They chose to cast Josh Brolin as Dwight on the grounds that this guy had his face changed. When it comes to the face changing, the only difference is that he has a different hairstyle. I don’t know why Clive Owen chose not to return, but it would have been nice to have him take over the role with the face change.

Paternity. One of the things that got on my last nerve was how every chance he got, Roark mentioned his son being killed. Once or twice was enough, but this was just too much. Doubling down on this idea, it should be noted that the “yellow bastard” is all over his office. There is no way we can forget!

Final thoughts on Sin City: A Dame to Kill For? Many people didn’t seem to like this film for some reason. Perhaps it is the bad taste left in their mouth from knock off films such as The Spirit. I think I have become a fan of this film…perhaps even more than the original (I need to go back and watch that again, before I can say for sure). There isn’t a flowing narrative that connects all the stories together as in the first one, and I feel that is the major negative, but for the most part, this is a solid flick. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


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