Co-directed by graphic novelist Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn), Sin City is the most faithful comic book adaptation ever attempted. The movie uses three of Miller’s stories; ‘Sin City’ (now renamed ‘The Hard Goodbye’), ‘The Big Fat Kill’, and ‘That Yellow Bastard’. All three stories share particular situations and characters, using a fractured timeline in much the same way as ‘Pulp Fiction’, albeit to a lesser extent. The story goes that Miller was persuaded to entrust these beloved characters to the film-making process, when Rodriguez presented him with a short scene (now the films intro.) as an example of the look and feel he was trying to achieve. Miller, of course, was blown away, and agreed to a co-direction partnership. In order to achieve this, Rodriguez had to resign his membership from the Directors Guild of America, a move which, if nothing else, showed just how seriously committed he was, to his dream project.
Sin City is a film where the three central characters are just about the furthest away from your typical comic book heroes as you can possibly get. Marv, a man “born in the wrong century, he’d be more at home swinging an axe into someone’s face on an ancient battlefield” is played by Mickey Rourke(in heavy prosthetics) in a career-defining role. Dwight McCarthy, “an ex-killer with a new face” is brought to life by Clive Owen, and grizzled but “do-gooder” cop, John Hartigan is skilfully portrayed by Bruce Willis. These three fundamentally flawed protagonists are the closest we get to having good guys in Sin City.
Sin City is a sadistically violent movie, in which characters are beheaded, limbs are torn off, guts are spilled, reproductive organs are detached from their owners (twice!), there are hit and runs, and multiple gun shot wounds and stabbings. This is comic book violence at its most explicit, but it is still comic book violence. The stylistic approach, mimicking the graphic novel’s black and white aesthetic, allows for more intensely violent imagery to be put on screen, uncut and in its intended form. (Film censors seem to only have an issue with excessive blood letting if the blood is actually red on screen, but Sin City overcomes this obstacle through its stark monochromatic visuals).
Within the Sin City ‘universe’, characters speak like something out of a Humphrey Bogart movie. This, of course, underlines the movies’ ‘film-noir’ tonality and themes, while also making lines such as “…the hell I’ve sent him to must seem like heaven after what I’ve done to him” sound good. Sin City is also the first digitally shot movie, using virtual sets and locations, which has truly worked, from both a technical and artistic standpoint. It looks amazing. Rounding off quite an incredible supporting cast (the sheer scheduling of whom, must have been a logistical nightmare) are Benicio Del Toro, Michael Madsen, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Nick Stahl, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Jaime King, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bleidel and Josh Hartnett. Be sure to look out for the scene in the car with Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro, surely the films most bizarre and funniest moment, shot by guest-director, Quentin Tarantino. Sin City is highly recommended viewing.
4.5 out of 5