Sin City (2005) (R)

Visually striking and stinking of faux noir, Robert Rodriquez with the help of Quentin Tarantino, made Frank Miller's graphic, graphic novels into a film. "Sin City" is about Basin City in an unknown state, in an unknown time. By the look of things, we are in the 20s or 30s, but that's subjective. It's entirely possible that the movie represents a society that has degraded from where we are in the 21st century—yet that is giving the movie more intelligence than it has.
"Sin City" has been called 'brilliant' and a 'masterpiece'; yet I find that the film is just entertainment with nothing past its face value.
Corruption, murder, prostitution, greed—it's like "Chinatown" except twice as gritty.
"Sin City" is shot in heavy digitalized black-and-white, with splashes of color thrown in for good luck and charm. I'll give it this, it certainly looks like a comic book, and for that it is commendable.
"Sin City" has three story arcs that rarely converge. The characters mingle from one arc to the other, but there is no real connection besides a bar where the three main characters end up.
The first story concerns a man named Marv (Mickey Rourke) , whose strength seems superhuman. He falls in love with a prostitute named Goldie (Jaime King), who is just using him for protection...a ploy that doesn't work out to well. After a night of passion and drinking, Marv wakes up to find that Goldie is dead and the police are barging in on him. He realizes immediately that he is being the fall guy for a crime much larger than this single act of murder. Hell-bent on finding the truth, he kills and tortures his way towards a knot of politicians and priests, tangled up in a horrible scandal. There's cannibalism, revenge, determination, and—naturally—a whole lot of murder. But underlying this is the incredible believability of Mickey Rourke as Marv. It's the best performance in the movie and it's also my favorite story arc.
Then there's Dwight (Clive Owen) a man who likes to stick his nose in other people's business. In love with more than one prostitute, Dwight ends up following and woman beater to Old Town—where all the prostitutes lives and chauvinism reigns supreme—getting embroiled with cops , robbers, and unexplained bad guys. Here is the weakest link of "Sin City" because it's completely unexplained. Why is Dwight following this guys around? Why does he help the ladies of the night? Why does he say that he never hits women and the backhands a woman in the next scene? Frankly, this middle section, which goes on far too long, is a hot mess.
Lastly, there's Hartigan (Bruce Willis), an ex-cop who got locked away for eight years for saving a girl's life. Hartigan saved a young girl from rape and murder, but in this town that's not an honorable thing...particularly when the potential rapist/murderer is an important politician's son. Hartigan always receives communication with Nancy via unclear letters she sends him every week in prison. Then, the letters stop and he has to get out and find what happened the girl that he's fallen in love with...yeah, it's kind of creepy. The fifty year difference between the two seems unimportant to their borderline pedophiliac love. It's a strong story line, but gets corrupted by the corruption...and the yellow dude.
But my largest qualm with the movie was how it treated women. It was certainly misogynistic, but they seemed to try to skip around the issue by having all the women be "strong women". Every single female character is a prostitute, minus one. The exception is a parole office who is also a lesbian; but don't worry because she's not clothed in a single scene. The hookers have guns and then defend Old Town with an iron fist and fuzzy pink handcuffs. It's 50 shades of stereotypical, placating to every man's fantasy. Yet, I appreciated how unashamedly they did all this...these "strong women" never had some redeeming quality, they were just hookers with guns. The movie went for its point with gusto, and even if you don't agree with it, you have to admire that.
"Sin City" is creepy and visceral, but ultimately sensationally entertaining.

Score: 3 out of 4 stars

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