Sin City is pretty disturbing for a comic book already; wait’ll you see it shot-for-shot, frame-for-frame, and depravity-for-depravity. Enjoy!
“Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything,” says Marv (Mickey Rourke), and he’s right, as long as it’s trouble you’re looking for. Marv must murder his way to the top after being framed for killing a call girl named Goldie (Jaime King); a burned-out but honest cop named Hartigan (Bruce Willis) pits himself against a corrupt senator and his son (Nick Stahl) to save the life of an innocent (Jessica Alba); and a man with a past and a new face named Dwight (Clive Owen) finds himself in the middle of a war between the self-regulated prostitutes of Old Town and the mob that wants their meat market back under their bloody thumbs. In a twisted vision of New York called Basin City, the lives of flawed heroes and sadistic villains all cross paths as Frank Miller directs his own cult-comic creation for the big screen (with a little help from director Robert Rodriguez and special guest director Quentin Tarantino).
The technique Robert Rodriguez brought to Frank Miller was the same technology he’d perfected for Troublemaker Studios Spy Kids series of films, but this time the finished product wouldn’t be for kids. From the 1992 visionary comic series Sin City, Rodriguez drew Miller into the film as a director to promise the creator full control of his work and that it would be treated with the respect that it had earned. Watching Sin City and then going back to the graphic novel that inspired it is nothing short of film fan heaven.
The realization of Sin City on film echoes Dark City: stylized Gotham-esque skyscrapers looming like sleeping giants, maze-like back alleys that never seem to end, and the sun is nowhere to be found. Then comes the eye-catching splash of color (a blood red dress, sickening yellow) to interrupt fathomless whites and blacks. Visually, it’s uncanny how much was left to the imagination in the comic, yet nothing seems betrayed onscreen, as if what’s being shown was there all along. If you haven’t heard it yet, read it here; this is the most faithful adaption of comic to screen to date, and that’s really saying something you’ll have to see to believe.
And then there’s the casting. That they found actors and actress (too many to single out here) that looked so much like the characters is nothing compared to what they got the cast to say, wear, and do! Nothing against Frank Miller, but the dialogue reeks of Quentin Tarantino, especially a couple of thugs discussing the uselessness of a sports car for “thug work” (this is not a bad thing, however). The outfits and prosthetics involved looked uncomfortable to say the least, but it also seems like everyone had a great time making the film and all of that bleeds right over into the audience’s viewing.
If Mickey Rourke hasn’t penned Rodriguez into his will for single-handedly reviving a stalled career, this movie should clinch it (make the call NOW, Robert!) The one thing this film isn’t, however, is mainstream; if this film makes more than $50 million on its opening weekend, Hollywood needs to start programming for the deprived yet depraved audiences yearning for more of this stuff. With only the smallest of changes to the costumes for a few less revealing moments, Sin City not only lives up to its namesake but exceeds expectations as the instant cult classic everyone hoped it would be.
You’re now leaving Sin City, please drive carefully (as opposed to driving like a homicidal maniac like everyone else does).
(a four skull recommendation out of four)