Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 21st September 2014
I walked into the movie house with nerves jangling like a film reviewer who’s heard bad things but is still desperate to be impressed. Sure, I’ve seen the previous Sin City movie, and its ground-breaking animated live action would’ve made James Cameron kick a hole in his green-screen – but that was 11 years ago, and the word on the street is this one doesn’t deliver the same punch. Critics aren’t exactly dumb, you know. But I can get my own answers.
I just don’t trust that Rodriguez. A try-hard, hotshot director who’s always played the wannabe Tarantino. Ah, Quentin – now there’s a guy who knows how to make a hardboiled, girls ‘n’ guns, exploitation throwback. But Rodriguez? Aside from Desperado, seems to me his movies have mostly been tricks turned by cheap callgirls.
As I settled into my seat, the darkness pulled in around me like a blanket. I reached for my pen – you never know when you’re going to need one in a job like this. Reviewing’s like my own personal crusade – to protect and serve.
But as the film rolled, the tightness in my guts unravelled like a fraying rope. Maybe lightning can strike twice. A Dame to Kill For was one of those films that looked as sensational as her sister did back in 2003. I’m wondering why it took Miller and Rodriguez so long to return to Sin City, but no matter – I’m glad they did. Yeah. You heard me – Frank Miller. The guy who wrote the graphic novel. Well, from what’s on screen I’m thinking if he’s co-directing the movie, that’s no bad thing.
Just don’t talk to me about sexist. What neo-noir isn’t going to treat the women as objects? Sure, there’s an awful lot of beauty on screen – enough to make you want to join a gym, or own one. Plenty of luscious naked forms and that kind of coquettish female representation that drives men crazy and women to protest. Don’t sweat it – the dames get mad and they get even. For every pair of hotpants and see-through robe, there’s an Uzi and a sword.
Of course, I’ve seen this type before. LA Confidential was smart but brutal, and it won Oscars for its trouble. For its part, Dame is easier on the eye than the superb but disturbing The Killer Inside Me, which, come to think of it, also starred Jessica Alba. Seems she’s got a thing for dressing in not much and getting roughed up. And another thing – this movie’s got Stacy Keach. The hulking hero who played Mike Hammer on television back in the day. Now, if that’s not a casting in-joke, I don’t know what is.
Along with the violence, it sure is talky. Just listen close to the voiceover – you don’t want to miss stuff like “She isn’t worth a moment’s thought, and I can’t get her out of my head”. Clever talk. Talk so laden with similes and metaphors it’d make a schoolteacher rejoice.
I’ll admit it – A Dame to Kill For won me over. Hell, you may not like the content, but you gotta admit the style’s something else. Spectacularly beautiful, sensationally sexist. Just don’t talk to me about a sequel.