MY WEEK (January 1, 2015): This black and white flop is still worth checking out

Once the sugary sweetness of Christmas has passed I like getting back to normality as soon as possible.

Friday, 2nd January 2015, 12:24 pm
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For

The tinsel gets packed away, the presents find a place among the rest of my household items and the rich food is finished off and replaced with more sensible dishes.

Don’t get me wrong – I always enjoy Christmas, but it’s so twee that as soon as it’s over I feel the need for something harsh and bracing to restore balance.

The recent DVD release of Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For did the job nicely.

It’s amazing to think that the original Sin City movie, adapted from Frank Miller’s brutal noir comic books by Robert Rodriguez, was released as long ago as 2005. The film was a hit, boasting a great cast and a unique black and white visual style that got everyone excited about digital filmmaking.

Sadly, its sequel flopped at cinemas in 2014. It’s difficult to see why though. The nine-year wait has resulted in a better quality flick and not just because of the advances in technology.

Jessica Alba, once mocked by detractors as a pretty face with limited acting talent, is very good here, offering the film’s most convincing performance. Her character, the exotic dancer Nancy, is gradually going mad, descending into alcoholism after the suicide of her lover John Hartigan (Bruce Willis). She’s furious and she’s out for revenge against the man responsible for the tragedy. That man is Senator Roark, a despicable and dangerous politician played with real menace by Powers Boothe.

Like the previous Sin City movie, this film is divided into three stories, which feel closer together here because Roark is the villain for two of them. They’re also linked by the character Marv (Mickey Rourke back on excellent form), who frequently appears to take part in various violent escapades.

A common complaint about Sin City 2 is that it’s one-note, which could explain its box office failure I suppose. But its restricted world view is such an integral part of what the filmmakers are doing that I can’t complain. Frank Miller’s bleak world is emphatically not a place of subtlety. So, we have Eva Green as the evil seductress Ava Lord, Rosario Dawson as the tough dominatrix Gail and Julia Garner as the airhead waitress Marcie. It’s not flattering to females but the male characters aren’t exactly complicated either. They’re either stupid and violent (Josh Brolin as Dwight), stupid and psychopathic (Ray Liotta as Joey) or just plain stupid even though they think they’re smart (Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny).

Yes, it’s unrealistic but that’s what I like about it. Entertainment doesn’t have to reflect the real world accurately. Sometimes it can just offer an escape into a super-stylised universe of tough-talking thugs and devious dames.