Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Stars: Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis
Director: Robert Rodriguez
There are tough towns, and then there's Sin City. It's the kind of burg where a guy wears brass knuckles like a pinkie ring. And the dames aren't just hard-boiled; they're pickled, salted and served over easy.
The last time writer-director Robert Rodriguez made a pit stop here was in 2005, when Sin City splashed blood and brains in our laps like steaming bowls of spaghetti Bolognese. It was a hot mess back then, and it's not much better in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
Oh, the story's better defined this time: A coal-hearted broad (Eva Green, who spends more time in her birthday suit than Capone did in spats) dupes a poor schmuck of a private detective (Josh Brolin) into doing some dirty work for her.
Of course, one thing (cold-blooded murder) leads to another (a splatterfest of flying guts). Only just like the last time, the blood ain't red; it's white. And yellow sometimes, I think. Hard to be sure. But not red. That's because the Sin City movies are based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, and in graphic novels everything's all crooked and shadowy, and when a poor sucker bleeds out, it has to be all artsy-like.
There are some other stories in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. One involves a flat-faced killing machine named Marv (Mickey Rourke); another has to do with one of Sin City's few decent cops (Bruce Willis). It's true they both died at the end of the first Sin City movie, but death ain't always the end on Planet Graphicnovel. No sense letting an electric chair or a bullet to the brain keep a good character from making a comeback, you know?
And then there's Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), who figures in all the stories — including one where a card sharp (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) comes to town to clean him out. In the end, though, the biggest cleanup job awaits the poor janitor who will have to squeegee all those brains off the walls.
Dennis Haysbert takes time off from his insurance commercials to play a chauffeur with fists of steel. Ray Liotta is an adulterous lout who gets what's coming to him. And Christopher Lloyd pops up as a back-alley doc who specializes in extracting bullets from his patients — but only after hogging all the anesthetic for his own use first.
Don't bother trying to count, but a good guess would be that two dozen heads go rolling in this "film," not to mention the odd eyeball or two. And those are just the cleaner kills: Some guys get arrows through their heads. A few get beaten until they resemble a newspaper left out in a rainstorm, then chewed to bits by the neighbor's dog.
So do your summer a favor, and plan to detour around Sin City. Unless, of course, you're determined to visit the feel-bad hit of the decade.
Bill Newcott is a writer, editor and movie critic for AARP Media.