Vintage cars, violence, sleazy women, violence, corrupt cops and well- violence. This is why you have to watch your own back in “Sin City.” “Sin City,” the place where the line between the good guys and the bad guys is thinner than Scott Peterson’s alibi and a place called Old Town makes Mos Eisley look like a Club Med resort. Frank Miller is the author of what has been called one of the best graphic novels created. And finally, someone has made a movie based on a comic book where you can sit the screen on your lap and turn each scene like a page.
This film is a combination of “Pulp Fiction” and your 1950’s detective narrative. The classic noir of a black and white film meets the world of the graphic novel with simple characters in complex situations. The movie is divided into three different storylines based on the many different books under the title “Sin City.” If you haven’t gotten the books, you are cheating yourself. Though the movie is an unblemished and unchanged adaptation of the books, there are definitely certain nuances about the characters that the books give more depth on that the movie can only hint at. Smells like a sequel.
Robert Rodriguez is responsible for bringing this comic book to the big screen; but it had its penalty. The penalty suffered was Rodriguez’s resignation from the Director’s Guild. The cause was bringing on Frank Miller as a co-director, something that was against the rules of the Director’s Guild. But Rodriguez felt it necessary to stick to the essence of what Miller created and there was no better way than to bring him on as a co-director. Along with Rodriguez and Miller, Quentin Tarantino came aboard to round out an already potent team. His personally directed scene is reminiscent of a scene in “Reservoir Dogs.” It’s too potent a scene to spoil it for you so just look for a conversation between Clive Owen and a dead Benicio Del Toro. There was no doubt that the experience of two seasoned directors like Rodriguez and Tarantino, mixed with the vision and creative flair of Miller, would make for such a gripping story. But even the three of them couldn’t accomplish this without a collection of talented actors that could pull off what some have not been able to do – make a great movie out of a comic book.
This movie has brought out some of Hollywood’s leading men with Bruce Willis and Benicio Del Toro heading out an ensemble that is a “who’s who” of rising and veteran talent. But it wasn’t Bruce Willis who stole the show. The limelight belonged to Mickey Rourke who played the character Marv. Rourke brought the essence of the true anti-hero to the screen. Rourke epitomized the rugged gritty thug with a smart mouth and a knack for finding trouble even in his sleep. The other surprise character in the movie is Kevin played by Elijah Wood who gave the impression that “Frodo” had been taking some classes with Jet Li and Donnie Yen. Done with saving Middle Earth, Elijah is now a cross between a super ninja and Jeffrey Dahmer chomping the forgotten women of “Old Town” like derelicts on an Egg McMuffin. Clive Owen was excellent brandishing his American accent wooing (and doing it well) the characters Shellie and Gail played by Brittany Murphy and Rosario Dawson respectively.
“Sin City” wouldn’t live up to its name if it didn’t have some of the toughest and sexiest women that ever graced the back alleys. Dawson and new comer Devon Aoki (“2 Fast 2 Furious”) brought new meaning to the term “leather and lace.” Aoki’s character Miho made Uma Thurman in the “Kill Bill” movies look like a rookie carrying the team’s bags on the first day of training camp. Which brings us to every heterosexual male’s fantasy Jessica Alba. If there are any reasons to see this movie, Jessica Alba on stage in stirrups dancing and swinging a lasso is one of them. Her character Nancy is a stripper in Old Town and the apple of every man’s eye; but her heart belongs to the man who saved her life when she was eleven years old.
Violence, sleazy women, tough guys and even tougher dames make this movie entertaining. The graphic and stylized violence keeps the movie moving but it’s not for the younger crowd. Nonstop action as well as your occasional comical one-liner balance out a movie that would make any comic book fan proud, and proves that a movie based on a comic book can be fun and enjoyable while keeping with the essence intended by the creator. So snap your fingers and clap your hands “Sin City” fans this isn’t a comic book movie but a movie comic book.
[Editor’s Note: For a chat with the film’s stars, click here.]