Sin City

A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:RATED R for Brutal Violence, Nudity, and Genital Removal
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis
Directed By: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Final Grade:

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’ teaming up on Sin City is not hard to recognize as a labor of love. The intense attention to detail put forth is downright outstanding, and whether you’re accepting of their direct translation from the comic page to the big screen, you have to admit one thing, which I’ll get out of the way quickly:

It looks really cool.

This is the great appeal of Sin City, a film that’s at some times vapid, at some times enthralling, but at all times beautiful. There are slight problems with characterization, some overuse of narration, and a bit of a feeling of overindulgence that runs through the entire film. But there’s also a lot of fun characters and a lot of gory, brutal violence.

The latter shouldn’t be a positive, but the way the stories handle their conflicts make it a necessity. This is a film that needs to be unforgiving to get its characters’ points across, relying more on showing us why these men and women have problems than telling us about them. Some will undoubtedly call it vulgar or smut, but those aren’t the people the film is trying to reach. It might also be viewed as sad by those that think this is a film that’s marketed to make violence and revenge look “cool” to anyone and everyone who will see it for that purpose. But those that would jump to this conclusion are missing the underlying romanticism and heroism of the characters involved in each of the stories.

In the first story, Marv’s trying to get revenge for the death of a whore he hardly knew. But the purist misses his motive, his sense of a responsibility that he owes to the first person he’s ever been shown affection by. In the second segment, Dwight tries to cover up a murder (again for the benefit of a whore), but also to avoid a bloody war that would kill many more than the one he’s trying to hide. And in the final act, a detective goes to all means to protect an innocent girl. There’s no need to explain any more about this story, but I think it’s easy to understand the violence involved is something that can be justified, at least to some extent.

Sin City is a movie that, at the core, is about just that – justification. Those that would view it as a pointless exercise in violence aren’t seeing the full picture. It’s not violence for the sake of violence, it’s violence for the sake of peace. As one character says it’s about proving you’re worth a damn. And sometimes, that does mean killing a whole lot of people. In a time when our country is sending innocents off to kill for freedom every day, a film like Sin City doesn’t deserve to be looked at as excessive.

It does however, deserve to be looked at, because it does look really good. And when you couple that with a brutally effective trilogy of short dramas, you’re left with a fully respectable film that’s a dream come true for the men behind it. Sin City deserves many things, but mostly it deserves our respect as a parable on the ever-fading line between right and wrong.

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