SIN CITY (Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
In adapting Frank Miller’s SIN CITY for the cinema, Robert Rodriguez invited the comic book artist to serve as co-director and pal Quentin Tarantino to guest direct a scene. Tough guys try to protect or redeem the tough dames who populate the grimy world of this black-and-white noir splashed with color. Bruce Willis’ cop Hartigan saves a little girl from a rapist and years later must keep her out of harm’s way again. In standing up for his woman, Clive Owen’s Dwight finds himself in the middle of a turf war between dirty policemen and prostitutes. Mickey Rourke is beefy thug Marv, who seeks revenge for the murder of Goldie, a hooker who showed him some kindness.
From beginning to end, Rodriguez’s joy in making films is palpable throughout SIN CITY. Its kinetic energy and embrace of film noir tropes provide a surge of adrenaline and testosterone for the fanboy universe. This visually inventive film attempts to recreate Miller’s comic panels as closely as possible, and the result is nothing short of stunning. Stylistically, SIN CITY may be Rodriguez’s crowning achievement, but his adherence to replicating Miller’s drawings often gives short shrift to the storytelling and characters. The archetypal tales of hard men and the women they love follow similar arcs to the point where repetition sets in. Marv’s beauty and the beast storyline stands out in large part due to the callous, world-weary characterization that Rourke conveys underneath his thick features. SIN CITY’s world is a grim one drenched in buckets of blood. The glee with which Rodriguez translates it to the screen makes SIN CITY a worthwhile destination for those so inclined.
(Review first aired on the April 12, 2005 NOW PLAYING)