Rosario Dawson

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

As I type this review, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is limping towards a sixth place showing at the box office. However, if you glance at, you’ll find that it has a respectable average user rating of 7.2. Count me among the IMDb tribe, as I found the movie to be just as visually stunning as its unique predecessor. Director Robert Rodriguez (Machete Kills) and Troublemaker Studios reunite the likes of Mickey Rourke (The Courier) and Rosario Dawson (The Captive), while adding newcomers Eva Green (300: Rise of an Empire) and Josh Brolin (Oldboy) to another hard-boiled tale from the back alleys of Basin City.

The movie opens against the familiar black & white backdrop we experienced in part 1. Recall that Bruce Willis’ character tangled with Senator Roark and his demented pedophile son, and that he ended up killing the younger Roark. In the sequel, Roark Sr. remains a corrupt senator, just as vicious as before. He crosses paths with a young gambler named Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon), and when the cocky upstart bests him in a game of poker, Roark erupts in violence. This is just a small slice of life in Sin City, and it prepares the viewer for what’s to come.

Familiar characters Marv (Rourke) and Nancy (Jessica Alba, Little Fockers) collide at the hole-in-the-wall bar where Nancy performs nightly on stage. It’s the perfect seedy setting for the cast of characters in this dark underworld. We’re introduced to Dwight (Brolin), a private eye with a tortured past – just like nearly every other man in Sin City. Dwight is beguiled by ex-lover Ava Lorde (Green), a “dame to kill for.” His resolve crumbles, despite feeble attempts to resist her advances. The female characters in Sin City reminded me of a line from The Godfather: they’re more dangerous than shotguns.

As the tale unfolds, the characters have distinct yet overlapping storylines. The atmospheric tone and the cinematography were amazing. Cigarette smoke wafted through the air and lingered like smog, while splashes of color punctuated the otherwise monochromatic landscape. I saw the movie in 3D, and for once it was used effectively, as Frank Miller’s graphic novel sprang to life. I loved the gravelly narration, as both Dwight and Marv brought us into their world. Some viewers may not like the stereotypical portrayals of men as burly brutes or women as vampy but vulnerable vixens, but what other inhabitants would you expect in a place called Sin City?

If you enjoyed the first Sin City, you will probably think this one is even better; I did. The movie was a visual feast, if nothing else – and I found it supremely entertaining. My sole criticism is that each vignette ended in somewhat silly fashion, as the characters met their respective fates. This movie isn’t for everyone, but I sure enjoyed it. I normally give letter grades, but it’s more accurate if I just say this was 8/10 for me.


I think I have a decent working knowledge of recent cinema, but I admit that I had no idea director Danny Boyle (127 Hours) was such a prolific filmmaker.  His name wasn’t on my radar until 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, which was amazing. I looked at his filmography and realized that there are a few more of his movies that I’d seen, including 28 Days Later and The Beach.  I enjoy his work because he has no discernible niche, and his repertoire reflects a unique versatility.

His latest offering is Trance, a reality-bending thriller starring James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class), Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), and Rosario Dawson (Unstoppable). McAvoy leads as Simon, a young auctioneer who sells valuable paintings off for a Sotheby’s-like company. The movie begins with Simon as narrator, describing his duties as auctioneer, including a detailed description of their robbery protocol.  Robberies used to happen with greater frequency in decades past, as thugs would simply storm into the auction with guns drawn, taking the precious art by force. When Vincent Cassel’s character Frank and his cohorts conspire to steal a valuable Goya painting, they display an intimate knowledge of the robbery protocol that could have only resulted from inside information, which implicates Simon.  When their brilliant heist goes awry, Simon is the only one who can provide answers. The stolen Goya has been lost, and only he knows its whereabouts.  Unfortunately, during the botched heist he suffered an amnesia-causing injury.

Complicating matters is Dr. Elizabeth Lamb (Dawson), a hypno-therapist who believes she can unlock Simon’s memory through co-operative therapy.  She places him in a trance, a mental state where he is highly susceptible to suggestion.  Elizabeth helps Simon navigate the deepest recesses of his mind and he begins to recall certain events.  But are these memories real or false? The lines between doctor and patient and reality and fantasy all become blurred, giving the film a surreal, moody quality.  There was foreshadowing throughout, which only added to the mystery and atmospheric intrigue that Boyle so deftly created.

Vincent Cassel was very effective as Frank, giving the character an unexpected depth.  One minute he seems like Simon’s tormentor; the next minute he is a concerned friend.  Rosario Dawson literally bared it all, boldly appearing nude from head to toe more than once.  I couldn’t believe she showed everything…even the “honeypot!”  I respect her dedication to the role, because although a close up of her hoo-haa may seem gratuitous, it actually made sense for her character to expose herself in such fashion.  James McAvoy ably exhibited Simon’s downward spiral, beginning the film upbeat and confident and ending it in a very dark place as he questions all around him.

The camera angles and cinematography were superb, as some scenes resembled the famous paintings that were featured in the movie.  Boyle’s use of color and overhead camera shots elevated the film to another level.  The writing and performances were nearly flawless, and the script was so cleverly written that Trance bears repeated viewings to be fully understood.  I found it confusing at times, but I attribute this muddling to my own lack of understanding rather than a flaw in Boyle’s writing.  Again, a second viewing is advisable.  If you appreciate suspense, you will not be disappointed. Grade: A-