Review: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is all style and no substance

The “Sin City” sequel delivers on graphic-novel visuals but falls flat with cheesy dialog and flimsy story arcs


Image Courtesy of The Weinstein Company


Jumping from the pages of creator Frank Miller’s original graphic novel and back onto the big screen after a ten-year hiatus, “Sin City” once again visually impresses with its uncanny, black and white graphic novel aesthetic. Panel by panel, Frank Miller’s dark neo – noir world is brought to life in stunning fashion, bringing us into a living breathing graphic novel where only green eyes, red blood and blonde hair stand out from the bleakness.

Image Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
Image Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

This is a world where blood splatters across the screen in an almost cartoony way while characters resemble film noir archetypes with a dash of imagination seen in Japanese animes and saturday morning cartoons. The action is fun, quick, stylish and engaging with Marv (Mickey Rourke) having a few standout fights and moments.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of the praise ends. Despite looking like a fanboy’s dream, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” falls flat as cheesy dialogue, bad pacing, and an unintresting plot lurk beneath the surface of this beautiful world.

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Similarly structured as it predecessor, “A Dame to Kill For” is dictated by the actions of several characters, both familiar and new. Multiple stories weave in and out from each other as different characters cross paths if only for a second. Marv is just looking for a good time and a good fight. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is trying to rescue his ex lover Ava(Eva Green) from a bad situation while Nancy (Jessica Alba) is looking for revenge that stems from the first movie.

Image Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
Image Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

The breakout storyline from the film involves gambling and a night out on the town featuring Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt). However, Johnny’s journey is not given nearly enough time to shine — sadly, after some careful build up, the plotline has a very unsatisfying conclusion.

That’s the biggest problem plaguing “A Dame to Kill For.” Lots of anticipation and build up that only leads to rushed, quick and easy ends to conclude its story arcs. Nothing ever feels truly resolved or at least earned in the resolutions that we are given.

Unlike the first film, the characters and plot lines never intersect in the interesting ways that you want them to.  Sure Marv jumps from story to story to fight somebody, but what else could these characters have done together?

Once the action is over, we’re left with bad monologues where characters mutter cheesy lines, like “It’s another hot night. The kind that makes people do sweaty secret things.” It completely takes you out of the moment and it’s moments like those that happen all too often.


Perhaps the search for substance in this film is futile. Maybe it’s best to just enjoy it for what it is. I’d give “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” five gritty monologues out of 10 — it doesn’t shy away from how cheesy or outrageous it is, but it doesn’t seem to care about its shortcomings. After being mesmerized by its look for two hours, you may not care either. But for fans of the original, or those just looking for a film that is pleasing to the eyes, I believe you’ll enjoy your stay in Sin City.