(out of 5)
“Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything”, the saying goes. Everything, that is, unless you’re looking for women who aren’t badly dressed hookers or men who aren’t Dick Tracy-visaged monsters with no appetite for anything but gory violence. This loosely strung collection of stories adapted from the graphic novels by Frank Miller is a visually striking, gut-flinchingly dark modernization of classic detective noirs of the forties. Mickey Rourke (in heavy Hellboy prothesis) plays an ex-con out to avenge the death of a hooker with whom he shared a wonderful night. Clive Owen is an ex-photographer who is dating waitress Brittany Murphy and wants to protect her from her soulless stalker (Benicio Del Toro) by teaming up with a gang of hookers from Old Town led by the ruthless Rosario Dawson. Bruce Willis goes to jail for maiming a serial killer (Nick Stahl) who happens to have strong political connections, then breaks out of the clink to save the stripper (Jessica Alba) for whom he committed the deed in the first place. The stellar cast (Dawson being a definite standout) is a pleasure to watch, and the characters are strong and colourfully written, but the vicious brutality of the imagery, enhanced by stark black-and-white photography that employs the odd hue for emphasis, eventually becomes tiresome and overbearing. The film is barely an excuse for a lot of ridiculous violence and silly sexual exploitation, and even its being upfront and honest about that doesn’t make it any more enjoyable.
Screenplay by Frank Miller, based on his graphic novels
Cinematography by Robert Rodriguez
Produced by Elizabeth Avellan
Costume Design by Nina Procter
Film Editing by Robert Rodriguez