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Movie review: Style over all else in 'Sin City'

Published August 22, 2014 9:21 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The self-consciously stylized "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is so driven to capture its peculiar visual aesthetic that it obliterates everything else — character, narrative, emotion and logic — to achieve it.

Robert Rodriguez shares directing credit with Frank Miller, on whose graphic-novel series the film is based, and together they mine the source material for more noir mayhem involving the seedy characters of a generic inner city.

Some characters are back from Rodriguez's 2005 "Sin City," including Mickey Rourke's battered bruiser Marv and Jessica Alba's Nancy, now a strip-club dancer who wants revenge on the powerful Sen. Roark (Powers Boothe), who was responsible for the death of her love, detective John Hartigan (Bruce Willis, returning here as a ghost).

Roark is prominent in the introductory vignette, challenged at poker by a cocky card sharp (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Then, without fanfare, that story is halted to follow Dwight (Josh Brolin), a private eye, getting pulled into the orbit of the seductive Eva (Eva Green).

Rodriguez, who also served as cinematographer and editor, employs his green-screen tricks to create Miller's nihilistic black-and-white images punctuated with flashes of color. Meanwhile, Miller's hodgepodge script tosses together story fragments and characters in a disorganized mess.

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'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'

Opens Friday, Aug. 22, at theaters everywhere; rated R for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and brief drug use; 104 minutes.