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Sin City
Posted to Movies at 04:31 PM on Sep 21, 2006

2005. Dimension Films. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. Starring Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, and Rosario Dawson.

The credits of Sin City boast that Quentin Tarantino is a "guest director". That surprises me. Because if I hadn't known that Robert Rodriguez directed Sin City, I'd have thought Tarantino directed the whole thing.

You know the black-and-white bits in Kill Bill? Write a two-hour movie around the black-and-white bits and you have Sin City. Rodriguez is the biggest Tarantino fan in the business. I'm not that familiar with Rodriguez's work, admittedly. And the film is based on a graphic novel. So the material isn't entirely inspired by Kill Bill.

It's just that I'm sitting there, watching this film, and I realize I'd seen it somewhere. Random starlets in various states of distress. Unhinged macho guys with weapons, pursuing aforementioned starlets. Stylized blood spatter. Revenge. Seemingly unrelated stories overlapping neatly at the end. Yawn. It's so familiar.

And that's okay. I don't mind homage. I don't mind filmmakers referencing other movies. But they need to be entertaining. If someone is ripping off other films or genres, they should make up for it by writing an interesting story. Sin City doesn't even have an interesting story. In a nutshell: Mickey Rourke, in an scary mask, seeks revenge for the death of a really pretty hooker. Bruce Willis fights a psycho pedophile and saves a little girl, who grows up to be Jessica Alba. Clive murders a cop (Benicio del Toro, in makeup almost as frightening as Rourke's mask) and must dispose of the body. Bruce, Mickey, and Clive Owen all know the same people and are interconnected distantly. I watch too much TV, but somehow, it just seems like all of it had already been done. Repeatedly. This was like Crime Thriller Mad Libs.

I can take or leave Bruce Willis. He does "tortured" well. He was okay. Mickey Rourke has always scared me and his story was disturbing enough, but his segment was very hard to watch. Clive Owen was baaaaad. Clive is British. Clive has an accent. Some Brits can do American accents easily. Clive is not one of them. Nor can Clive disguise his boredom with mediocre material.

The photography in this film is stunning, though. Remarkable. If there were just a hint of a decent story, this movie could be considered great.


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