Sin City

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As edgy as it gets.

Apr 4, 2005 (Updated Mar 31, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:As edgy as it gets, the perfect antidote to puritan whining.

Cons:Possibly too edgy for some.

The Bottom Line: If for nothing else, go for the most amusing (and sick) Pez Dispenser joke you'll ever hear in a movie.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

"How edgy is it?"

That was the question a friend asked when I made reference to going to see Sin City yesterday. She wanted to know because she likes movies that are edgy. I replied that Sin City is "VERY edgy in a Pulp Fiction sort of way".

That it is. Sin City is the perfect edgy movie for these times. It's stylish and hyperviolent and mean and excessive and totally unapologetic for any of it. In other words, the perfect antidote to much of the current cinematic treacle (Miss Congeniality 2? Please). And I love it.

Like the aforementioned Pulp Fiction, Sin City is one film that I will see multiple times in the theater if given the chance. Like the Tarantino masterwork, it's full of stylish violence, EXTREMELY dark humor, bodacious women and non-linear storytelling. Which is appropriate, since this was directed by Tarantino confidante Robert Rodriguez (who previously helmed the El Mariachi trilogy) and Quentin himself supposedly assisted with the production at one point. By assisted, I mean directed part of one segment of the film.

Sin City, for those unaware, is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. Miller, who also was responsible for the 1986 Batman graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, created the novel as a series of tales similar in style to classic film noir.

Rodriguez keeps the noir connections intact by shooting Sin City in almost all black and white, except for a few flashes of color (a red bed on which a killer and prostitute sleep, yellow matter of some kind on a pedophile's body). Therefore we get the sense that much of the movie takes place either at night or in dark locations. This is vital if you want to inject the feeling of noir into the film and Rodriguez understands it and puts it to good use.

The other essential element of film noir is that there are no heroes. There are villains of course and many anti-heroes. But no heroes. Rodriguez gets this too and so we get a film full of thugs and crooked cops and hookers and villainous politicians and cannibals and so on. It's telling that the lone upstanding character in Sin City is a cop with a bad pacemaker.

That cop is the main character of the first and last segments of Sin City (not counting the prologue and epilogue with the Josh Hartnett character). John Hartigan is on the verge of retirement when he saves a young girl from a sick pedophile (Nick Stahl). The pedophile isn't killed by Hartigan's bullets. But he is Bobbitted. Unfortunately for Hartigan, the pedophile is also the son of corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). But I shall say no more and let you experience the segment for yourself. Same for the last one too.

The second segment features Mickey Rourke in a career resurrecting role as Marv, a baddie on parole. A baddie on parole with a much scarred face that is. A baddie on parole with a gorgeous parole officer (Carla Gugino) who, unfortunately for him, is a lesbian. A baddie who finds himself devoted to tracking down the killer of the only woman who ever slept with him, a prostitute named Goldie. The trail leads him to a mysterious farm which is run by a cannibal named Kevin (Elijah Wood). From there, we get much gore and scenes of Gugino tied up. Not a lucky little lady in the city of light. Just another lost angel, city of night. I shall say no more about that segment (or toss in any more Doors lyrics for that matter).

The third segment involved a waitress named Shellie (Brittany Murphy), her ex-con boyfriend Dwight (Clive Owen, redeeming himself for his involvement in King Arthur), her crooked cop ex-boyfriend Jackie Boy *Benicio Del Toro), a mob boss (Michael Clarke Duncan) and more hookers than can be found in Miami's red light district.

Then there's the final segment which brings back Hartigan.

All of the performances in here are great. Willis does a good job as the tortured Hartigan, Elijah Wood is appropriately creepy as flesh hungry Kevin (accordingly, Kevin doesn't say much and thankfully does not try to out-Hannibal the definitive movie cannibal of all time. Of course I refer to Mr. Lecter). Duncan, Hartnett and Murphy are all good as is Gugino. And of course Rosario Dawson, in what may be her best role to date. Del Toro is quite demented and fun to watch. Yet the standout performances are by Rourke and Owen. In essence, they are to Sin City what John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson were to Pulp. Those two are the ones we'll really remember when we think about this movie in years to come.

The only real drawback to Sin City is that it may be a little TOO edgy for certain people. Many of those people would be better off going to see Miss Congeniality 2. And I definitely do NOT recommend taking kids younger than 14 to Sin City. But everyone else, I would advise you to drop what you're doing and go see the edgiest movie of the year. If for nothing else, go for the most amusing (and sick) Pez Dispenser joke you'll ever hear in a movie.


Recommend this product? Yes


Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age


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