Instant immersion in the shadowy Sin City underworld does this long-overdue sequel credit on the road in. The road out is not quite so hot, but the gooey centre is oozing with blood, gore, eye-gouging, sweat and nubility.
I say nubility, because despite the unbridled reach-out-and-touch airbrushed 3D female nudity, the ladies in question are also power masters with some kind of unconventional nobility. From swish mansions to the streets of Old Town, you find seductive exploiters and jaw-dislocating babes. It’s just too bad that they’re all prostitutes or strippers one way or the other, but this is (writer-director) Frank Miller, not Virginia Woolf.
I had forgotten to look out for SC2, thanks to the nine-year gap since the first Sin City. Indeed, I can date SC1 on my own timeline: in 2005, I was behind a till at a central London record store and procured a pack of complimentary DVD-release Sin City playing cards from said store. The deck’s significance has just been rebooted with the appearance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s lucky gambler character, who faces off against the fiend Senator Roark.
If the wait for this sequel had not been so Chinese Democracy long, it might have had more explosive power, although the producers have managed to preserve more of their cast than Guns ’n’ Roses did.
The addition of 3D is a bonus, but the signature aesthetic that was so grand and fearless the first time round is far from fresh now. SC2 is enjoyable and immersive, yet also predictable. It’s still good ultra-violent comic-book noir; just don’t expect a Raymond Chandler novel.
Mickey Rourke’s maniacal tyrannosaur, Marv, makes a welcome return, but sort of peters out at the end. Surely he’s taken worse punishment without so much as wiping the gleaming white blood from his Mt Rushmore carved cliff face.
The core story of A Dame To Kill For does deliver, though – and in epic, eye-popping (in both senses) style. It features Eva Green as temptress Ava Lord, with her lustrous green eyes shining out in the morbid depths of the Basin City night, concealing the narcissistic sky-clad witchcraft that mercilessly tugs the strings of Josh Brolin’s investigator Dwight McCarthy.
Ava is a classic femme fatale, her casual, gasp-worthy nudity casting a veil over her rows and rows of vicious teeth and providing some pre-release controversy. It felt like this section should have been the finale, but alas…