Sin City

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner1/06/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 124 mins

Violent, stylish, stunning to look at and more hard-boiled than a ten minute egg, this won’t be to everyone’s tastes but it’s a treat for pulp noir fans and aficionados of Miller’s work.

The Plot

The latest film from writer-director-everything else Robert Rodriguez is a frame-by-frame adaptation of three graphic novels in the Sin City series by Frank Miller. Miller co-directs with Rodriguez, a move that involved Rodriguez resigning his Director’s Guild membership after the DGA refused to let him share a director’s credit with a first-time director.

Bookended by two short sequences featuring Josh Hartnett, Sin City tells three specific tales of violence and revenge. The Hard Goodbye stars Mickey Rourke (under thick prosthetic make-up) as Marv, a tough guy on a mission of vengeance after the death of the prostitute he loved (Jaime King). With the help of his sexy parole officer, Lucille (Carla Gugino), he eventually discovers that a politician’s son (Nick Stahl) has been killing women aided by a deadly, silent accomplice (Elijah Wood) and sets out to wreak his revenge.

The Big Fat Kill stars Clive Owen as Dwight, a private eye who finds himself slap bang in the middle of a violent turf war between the lethal hookers of Old Town (led by Rosario Dawson) and the mob (headed by Michael Clarke Duncan), after an unfortunate incident involving sleazy cop Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) and the business end of a samurai sword.

Finally, the third story, That Yellow Bastard, stars Bruce Willis as Hartigan, an almost-retired cop who swears to protect a girl (Jessica Alba as the “all growed up” version of “little” Nancy Callaghan) from the now-deformed politician’s son.

The Performances

The performances are all excellent. Surprisingly, the stand-outs are Mickey Rourke and Clive Owen, who’s nowhere near as wooden as he usually is and gives one of his best performances. The girls are all fabulous, but special mention should go to Devon Aoki (as Deadly Little Miho), whose character makes a deep impression without actually saying anything.

There’s also a terrific supporting cast that includes Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe and Michael Madsen in small roles, while Elijah Wood is genuinely creepy as the silent killer.

The Style

The film looks absolutely fabulous. It was shot entirely on soundstages using green screen technology and digital jiggery-pokery. The effect is as if Miller’s stark black and white panels have had several volts of electricity pumped through them and suddenly come to life. There are, however, little flashes of colour: a pair of gorgeous blue eyes here, some red lips there, the odd splash of blood and of course That Yellow Bastard himself.

The hard-boiled dialogue is superb, with each main character granted a gravelly voice-over that adds greatly to the noirish atmosphere. There’s also a dark streak of humour running through the film and some nice touches, such as Marv taking the coats from the men he kills to the point where “Hey, nice coat” takes on a whole new meaning.

The Conclusion

In short, Sin City may be a little too ‘style over substance’ for some tastes and the relentless violence won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re prepared to go along with it, you’re in for a hell of a ride. At any rate, it’s unlike anything else you’ll see at the cinema this year. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 18/01/2020 04:59

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