NEW YORK (CNS) — The hard-boiled, excessively violent milieu of "Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (Weinstein) is so overdone it plays like a satire.
The lewd plot and glib noir style of this sequel to 2005’s "Sin City" — based, like its predecessor, on Frank Miller’s graphic novels — aren’t the real selling points, anyway: Ava (Eva Green), the "Dame" of the title, spends more than half her screen time nude.
"If you can’t love me, hate me. If you can’t forgive me, punish me," she says. Graphic novels sometimes can become compelling dramas. But this "Sin City" amounts to little more than a smutty comic-book adaptation using competent actors as bait.
Miller, who wrote the script and co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, emphasizes lurid bloodletting amid the retro black-and-white setting. All women are objects of desire, while the men exist only to have their eyes gouged out and fingers maimed while they absorb fists and bullets.
The interlocking stories involve gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), corrupt Sen. Roark (Powers Boothe), stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) — whose lover Hartigan (Bruce Willis) was killed in the first film and returns as a hallucination — grotesque Marv (Mickey Rourke), a one-man crusader for rough justice, and Gail (Rosario Dawson), leader of a group of prostitutes who control a whole neighborhood through their surprising adeptness with automatic weapons.
Ava is a seductress who lures the film’s hero, detective Dwight (Josh Brolin), into several gory encounters with various thugs.
"A city’s like a woman or a casino," Johnny snarls in a voiceover. "Somebody’s gonna win. And it’s gonna be me." If anybody comes away from these sordid proceedings a winner, it’s certainly not the audience.
The film contains pervasive violence, frequent upper female nudity, much sexual banter and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.
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