by Brek the David
Sin City (2005) – Director: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez Screenplay: Frank Miller Starring: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood OSCAR COUNT (0)
Dwight: The Valkyrie at my side is shouting and laughing with the pure, hateful, bloodthirsty joy of the slaughter… and so am I
John Hartigan: I take away his weapon.
[shoots Junior’s hand]
John Hartigan: [pauses] Both of them.
[shoots Junior’s groin]
Marv: I love hitmen. No matter what you do to them, you don’t feel bad.
Of all the comic book adaptations that have been made in the past twenty or thirty years none of them come close capturing and adapting the comic book medium to film like Sin City. Now there is no question that the actual plots and characters and themes compare to other films on this countdown, but the execution of this film is an impressive achievement and stands far and away as Robert Rodriguez’s best work. For anyone who is a fan of comic books, Sin City should rank at the top for transferring what’s on the pages to film. Of course Sin City is far easier to adapt than complex works like Watchmen. It’s that simplicity though that makes Sin City so damn good.
Now Frank Miller, the creator, writer, and illustrator of Sin City won’t ever be confused with Tolstoy or Steinbeck, hell, he isn’t even among the elite writers of comics. With Sin City, however, he hit the ball out of the park. Sin City is homage to film noir and pulp novels of days gone by. It’s a world filled to the brim with seedy and shady characters. There are no good guys, just bad guys, worse guys, and the worst guys. There’s booze, broads, and bullets, and all three assault and caress you from the opening shot. This world is fueled on violence and sex, and often those two are inextricably bound as one. It’s almost misogynistic in its portrayal of women, but then it’s not too keen on men either. As I said, these stories exude immorality and debauchery. That’s the whole point. Sin City is humanity at its worst, a place where only death is redemption.
In Rodriguez’s Sin City we follow Marv, John Hartigan, and Dwight through the wicked streets of Basin City. All three men have their own codes and their glimpses of righteousness, but all this is tainted with extreme violence, sometimes justified. Mickey Rourke owns this film as Marv, a hulking, simple-minded brute, seemingly invincible, a veritable war machine. Bruce Willis works well as the old cop that falls in love with a much younger woman, and it’s this love and devotion that brings about his downfall, as he makes the ultimate sacrifice for Nancy. And then there’s Dwight, played by Clive Owen. This is the weakest part of the movie as Clive Owen just can’t match the presence of Rourke and Willis. To be fair though, Dwight’s story isn’t as compelling as The Hard Goodbye (Marv) or That Yellow Bastard (Hartigan).
Now, the acting is good to great and the stories intriguing and often exciting, but it’s the visual aspect of Sin City that is most impressive. Shot with the now prevalent “green screen”, Sin City evokes the black and white contrast of the pages of Miller’s Sin City like no other comic book movie before or since. Color is splashed here and there making the images even more provocative. The action is stylized in comic fashion in its unrealistic execution. Impossible things happen on screen letting you know that this is some dream world, a twisted dark reflection of reality. And since that was Miller’s vision, it too is Rodriquez’s and what a fantastic vision it is. Seriously, if you can make Elijah Wood the creepiest character in Sin City, which would put him in the running for creepiest character of all time, then you’ve succeeded with flying colors.
DID YOU KNOW? Adrien Brody auditioned for the Jackie Boy character.