This neo-noir action film is based upon a graphic novel of the same name. Written, produced, and directed by Frank Miller, the story is a compilation of books from a comic series. As such, the plot jumps around from storyline to storyline, unified by the setting (Basin City or Basin City – get it?) and a few overlapping characters.
In one story, Bruce Willis plays a cop named Hartigan, fighting against police corruption and a seriously demented yellow-skinned freak to protect a young girl from the freak’s abuse.
In another plotline, Marvin (played by Mickey Rourke, who’s barely recognizable under a garish rubber mask) is a born loser and two-fisted fighter who falls for a hooker with a heart of gold – a blonde who he dubs “Goldie.” When he wakes up next to Goldie’s dead body, Marvin leaps into action – literally.
In fact, I believe his first move (after breaking the door down and wiping out a few coppers in the process) is to plunge down several stories to the bottom of a stairwell to escape a SWAT team assault.
His mission is to avenge Goldie’s death, and between kicking men’s asses to steal their “mighty fine” coats and dragging people out the doors of speeding cars, he manages to find one of the most evil kids you’d ever hope to lay eyes on. Marvin eventually heads to Old Town (Sin City’s red light district) and that’s where we get to meet the ladies of the night who kill to protect their territory.
And then there’s Dwight McCarthy (played by the awesome Clive Owen) who’s hooked up with a waitress from Marvin’s favorite watering hole.
It’s where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances every night. The angel of the pole dancers, Nancy is the grown up version of the girl Hartigan saved (you remember him, right? Bruce Willis?).
And while Hartigan ends up in deep doo-doo, because the yellow freak was the son of the powerful Senator Roark (played with deliciously evil panache by Powers Boothe), McCarthy connects with the ladies of Old Town, who put up a show-stopping fight of the most hardboiled, pulp fiction-ized order.
I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers, but I’ll say that Sin City is a work of cinematic genius – all black and white and cartoonish with an occasional splash of color thrown in for contrast. It’s also a bleak depiction of how the rich and powerful can hold sway over the less fortunate.
I have to add here that, when I first saw this film, it was quite a jolt to see Alexis Bledel (who plays the studious, Yale-bound Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls) in the part of a gun-toting prostitute. A double-crossing one at that!
This movie is one of my very favorites and gets a whole-hearted two thumbs up!