It’s such a shame that a nine-year wait has almost made it impossible for the sequel to Frank Miller’s 2005 violent crime noir to gain traction this time round.
There was a massive fan clamouring for a follow-up within a few years of the original’s surprising success – with Miller’s uniquely dark graphic novel styling in its infancy – but after the likes of 300 in recent years, it simply doesn’t have the same fresh ‘wow’ factor anymore.
This has been reflected in an awful box-office opening in the States at the weekend (it only managed to enter eighth in the charts) – but if you’re a fan of the material there’s still much to enjoy in Basin City.
Hollywood’s top stars wanted to be a part of it too, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Eva Green (Casino Royale) and Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men), joining remaining cast members Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis – with both Robert Rodriguez and Miller returning to direct.
Much like the first film, ‘A Dame To Kill For’ interweaves two of Miller’s original books, along with a couple of new stories made for the movie – with the main title piece seeing private detective Dwight (Brolin replacing Clive Owen) get woven into a devious web of seduction by (nearly always naked) ex-lover Ava (Green).
Psychopathic hard man Marv (Rourke) opens proceedings with ‘Just Another Saturday Night’; cocky gambler Johnny (Gordon-Levitt) takes on crooked senator Roarke (Powers Boothe) in a ‘death wish’ game of poker in ‘The Long Bad Night’; and Roarke is also being targeted by stripper Nancy Callahan, who is looking to avenge the death of Bruce Willis’ cop Hartigan in ‘Nancy’s Last Dance’.
Splashes of colour help embellish plot devices among the dimly-lit black-and-white world – with cream colouring generally depicting blood spillage from gunfire, crossbows and hack n’ slashing swordplay – but this sequel can’t escape an element of déjà vu.
Fortunately it again comes together in a competent fashion, with notable characters, solid storytelling and an excellent visual stylisation that still deserves plaudits – and it’s an absolutely pleasure to watch in 3D.
What it doesn’t do in anyway, shape or form is offer anything new, so that sadly leaves it almost strictly for fans of Miller’s Sin City world, or anyone just wanting to see that rare thing nowadays – an artistically-violent film with an ‘18’ certificate.
At least it hasn’t been dumbed down by cash-hungry studio execs by sticking to its brutally sinful roots – but this sadly doesn’t guarantee box-office coin anymore.
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CAST: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, EVA GREEN, JOSH BROLIN, MICKEY ROURKE, JESSICA ALBA, POWERS BOOTHE, ROSARIO DAWSON, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD & BRUCE WILLIS
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 40 MINS
DIRECTOR: FRANK MILLER & ROBERT RODRIGUEZ