Thursday Night Movie Club
Sin City
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Release Date: 1 April 2005

Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
Bruce Willis
Clive Owen
Mickey Rourke
Jessica Alba
Powers Boothe
Rosario Dawson
Benicio Del Toro
Michael Clarke Duncan
Josh Hartnett
Rutger Hauer
Michael Madsen
Frank Miller
Brittany Murphy
Nick Stahl
Elijah Wood
Devon Aoki
Carla Gugino
Nancy Callahan
Senator Roark
Jackie Boy
The Man
Cardinal Roark
Roark Jr./Yellow Bastard
Sin City movie poster Sin City movie poster Sin City movie poster
Michael Madsen and Bruce Willis in Sin CityFour tales of sex, greed, corruption, power, violence, cruelty and kindness all converge in a brilliant movie by Robert Rodriguez and Robert Miller in Sin City. The stories are based upon a series of graphic novels by Miller. The directors cleverly bring a graphic novel to the big screen while keeping alive the look, feel and spirit of the graphic novel.

Sin City was shot in high-contrast black and white with special-effects added spot color, usually blood red. The result is stunning to watch. Make-up also plays an important role in the telling of the stories. Bruce Willis face is scarred showing life is not easy even for a police detective close to retirement. Mickey Rourke is all but unrecognizeable. As for the costumes, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson are show-stopping sexy.

Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton in Sin CitySin City is book-ended with "The Man" (Josh Hartnett). He enters a party in full swing, yet he is aloof to the events. He makes his way to the balconey where he finds "The Customer" (Marley Shelton) standing alone. The two strike up a conversation. As the conversation progresses, there is a definite attraction building between them. Until "The Man" pulls out a gun and shoots her dead.

Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is an aging police detective with a bad heart. He has tracked a maniac named Junior to the docks where he plans to rape a young girl named Nancy. Before Hartigan can confront Junior, he is stopped by his partner Bob (Michael Madsen). Junior's father is the powerful Senator Roark (Powers Booth). Bob knows who runs the city and he is content to let Junior have his fun. Hartigan saves Nancy by aptly shooting Junior in the groin so he can no longer rape young girls. However, Bob shoots Hartigan. Hartigan, knowing he is going to die, goads Bob into shooting him over and over. This gives the regular police force the time to arrive at the docks and save Nancy from being killed by Bob.

Mickey Rourke and Jamie King in Sin CityA raging brute of a man Marv (Mickey Rourke) is surprised when a hooker named Goldie (Jamie King) comes on to him. Unexpectedly, Marv falls in love with her. Marv wakes to find Goldie has been horribly mutilated right next to the sleeping Marv. Marv cannot figure out who could possibly sneak passed him. When he hears police sirens, Marv knows someone has set him up to take the fall. When Marv crosses paths with the "still living" Goldie, he wonders whether he is cracking up or if his medications are causing hallucinations.

In Marv's search for the truth, he discovers the girl he thought to be Goldie is actually her twin sister Wendy who is also looking for answers. The hunt leads Marv to Cardinal Roark (Rutger Hauer) and his mysterious henchman Kevin (Elija Wood). Kevin can move incredibly fast and with complete stealth. Kevin beats Marv senseless but Marv cleverly handcuffs himself to Kevin to the "freak" cannot escape. Marv dismembers Kevin and feeds him to his own dog before tracking down Cardinal Roark and doling out his own form of justice.

Clive Owen in Sin CityDwight (Clive Owen) follows the thuggish Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) into Old Town of Basin City where the town prostitutes live free due to police protection. The prostitutes grow tired of Danny Boy's sadistic cruelty. They take matters into their own hands and kill Jackie Boy. Big mistake. Jackie Boy is actually a famous police detective named "Iron Jack" Rafferty. Old Town is no longer safe from the police unless Jackie Boy's body can be hidden. Soon after, mob kingpin Manute (Michael Clarke Duncan) is involved. He can hold off the police and keep the prostitutes safe in exchange for a very high fee.

Once again, Sin City returns to the story of Hartigan. A surprised Hartigan regains consciousness in the IC unit of the hospital with Senator Roark (Powers Booth) looking down on him. Roark wants Hartigan alive so Roark can mentally torture him. Roark is also looking for Nancy to avenge his son. If he keeps Hartigan alive long enough, Hartigan will slip up. Roark is patient. Hartigan panics.

Carla Gugino as Lucille in Sin CitySin City is a beautiful film to watch. Shot mostly in black and white on a soundstage, the sets are mostly computer generated except for any props an actor may actually need to touch. Directors Miller and Rodriquez sparingly use spot-color to highlight certain elements. "The Customer" is wearing a shockingly red dress and matching lipstick. She is as hot as her dress. Senator Roark's mangled son is a disgusting piss-yellow. Manute's false eye shines with a false yellow sheen.

Elijah Wood playing Kevin doesn't have a single spoken line. Depicting him in glasses where the lenses are colored solid white is very eerie, sinister, disturbing, frightening and probably a few more choice adjectives. Kevin sits completely still. His clothes don't even move in the wind. His eyes are never shone leaving the audience's immagination to fill in the blanks. Those darned blank, staring, white, haunting, cold, emotionless eyes! The effect is very creepy. (O.K...enough adjectives for ya?)

Elijah Wood in Sin CityEvery single shot was carefully preplanned. Each frame would be suitable for framing assuming someone is dimented enough to actually print the shots. The violence is visceral and over the top. Blood splatters. Heads roll. Heads fly. Heads explode! Sin City is not for the squeemish or faint of heart.

Every single actor/actress cast in the film puts in a stellar performance, even if their appearance is short. Mickey Rourke is all but unrecognizable playing Marv. Marv is probably the most interesting character. Marv has a condition. He is heavily medicated. The end result is that Marv doesn't have recent memories. Even though Marv's story is one of the main stories, the audience does not learn much about Marv's past. This doesn't really matter as Marv is a creature who lives in the here-and-now. What just happened or what will happen tomorrow is immaterial.

Sin City is not without humorous passages. The best sequence, if your sense of humor is as warped as the characters, comes when Dwight is trying to dispose of Jackie Boy's corpse. Dwight begins to panic. Jackie Boy starts talking, taunting Dwight. Dwight stares out the windshield taking everything Jackie Boy dishes out. "Sure Jackie Boy is dead. Sure I'm dreaming. That doesn't mean the son-of-a-bitch isn't right!", Dwight tells himself.

Jessica Alba as Nancy in Sin CityNormally, voice-over narration is a distraction in movies. Sin City is an excellent use of the technique. Knowing what the characters are thinking is crucial to furthering the story and building suspense. The audience gets to know the characters better by their thoughts.

Another humorous bit is the guy shot through the chest with an arrow who doesn't die immediately. He looks around at his cohorts saying, "Look at me. I've just been shot by an arrow. That's amazing. Hey, isn't anyone going to call a doctor? You gonna take me to the hospital?". His cohorts ignore him knowing he is a corpse waiting to die. Wonderful.

Sin City is a graphic novel graphically brought to life through advances in digital/special effects cinematography. As such, the film works on every level. The film is film noir taken to the extreme. The good guys are not very good. The bad guys are the epitome of evil. The film is dark. The characters are dark. The stories are dark. Now that makes a recipe for fun!