I have never been an all-around lover of movies based on comic books, however, when these two art mediums come together perfectly, I am thrilled, as was true in 2005 for Sin City.
Created on the basis of a famous graphic novel series by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez takes its style and spirit by telling the adventures of three different characters in the fictional city of Basin City.
What exactly are these episodes about? Let’s look at them one by one.
The Hard Goodbye
In this corrupt, crime-ridden metropolis where lawlessness and violence reign, the first story we follow is about a big-time criminal named Marv.
The man seeks revenge after the murder of his lover Goldie, killed by someone just after their first night of passion.
Waking up next to her dead body, he quickly realizes that someone has set him up since the police immediately break down the door trying to arrest him.
But in his unstoppable fury, he escapes and begins to investigate the woman’s true identity, trying to figure out who might have wanted her dead and ending up in a plot that reaches the highest echelons of city politics.
The Big Fat Kill
The second story centers on a group of prostitutes defending themselves against a group of thugs who want to take advantage of one of them.
After taking them all out, unfortunately, they discover their leader was a Basin City police detective, a decorated officer admired and respected by all his colleagues.
At that point, the police and criminals team up to exploit the incident in their favor and impose their rule over the older side of town once and for all.
However, they have not put in the equation a man with a shady past who will help the prostitutes fight to keep them from all becoming slaves as they once were.
That Yellow Bastard
Finally, the last story involves a cop named Hartigan who tries to protect a little girl from a sadistic serial killer, protected by his father, a powerful and corrupt politician.
Because of this, his colleagues pretend to look the other way when they falsely frame him for the murders of this maniac, ending up in prison for eight years.
When he later returns free, he realizes the revenge against him is not yet over, so he returns to protect the girl, who has grown into a beautiful girl in that time.
The whole town is practically against them, however, as well as, of course, the serial killer who has not forgotten the terrible wounds with which the policeman disfigured him long before.
From comic strip to big screen with equal charisma
Sin City is a gritty and intense exploration of the dark underbelly of urban life, filled with complex characters and a sense of moral ambiguity that keeps the audience in suspense until the end of this 2005 movie.
Robert Rodriguez‘s direction is marked by his commitment to faithfully adapting the graphic novel’s unique visual style and narrative techniques to the big screen.
He worked closely with Frank Miller, the graphic novel creator who also appears in an amusing cameo, and with friend and colleague Quentin Tarantino, who oversaw a small surreal fragment of the second episode.
This is not the first courtesy between the two directors; since a few years earlier, Rodriguez composed some of the music for the groundbreaking Kill Bill.
This collaboration brought a cinematic experience that closely mirrors the feisty, stylized aesthetic of the book, such as the use of black-and-white photography with occasional selective colorization to create an intriguing visual effect.
Using this technique makes for a stark, high-contrast look emphasizing the shadows and graphic violence of the film.
As is his usual style, for example, in the popular Desperado, Rodriguez also employs unconventional angles and rapid editing to capture the fast-paced action of the story.
Moreover, often using techniques such as split screen and slow motion to enhance the emotional impact, the direction is a bold and innovative interpretation of the graphic novel.
A multitude of paths between different characters crosses and intersect, revealing the deep corruption and violence permeating the city and a few’s courage to resist.
Visually, it remains to this day a unique experience full of charm and stylistic frills, distinguishing it from any other crime thrillers or cinematic adaptations of popular comics.
Full Hollywood in a strange noir style
Besides the excellent comic premise and Rodriguez’s superb direction, Sin City is a movie featuring a large cast of actors and actresses, among the finest in 2005.
Each, in their own way, offers a solid and memorable performance that contributes to bringing to life the dark and twisted world of this city.
Mickey Rourke was most beloved by the crowd as Marv, a massive and brutal anti-hero yet funny and charming in his own way.
His menacing performance captures the ferocity and vulnerability of this character, who is never quite sure of what he is doing because of his mental problems.
Equally powerful is the performance of Bruce Willis, one of the few cops with a conscience who ends up unjustly persecuted simply because he wants to do justice.
The actor brings a quiet intensity to the role, adding a perverse romance in his relationship with Jessica Alba, whom he remembers as a child and later meets as a sexy, irresistible stripper.
Coming to the last episode, we have Clive Owen as Dwight, a mysterious and violent drifter whose past we know absolutely nothing about.
Above all, this anti-hero is enhanced by a magnificent villain played by Benicio Del Toro, a corrupt cop with spectacular dialogue even after he dies in that brief Tarantino-directed scene mentioned earlier.
Along with Jessica Alba, we will meet many other gorgeous femmes fatales in this town, such as Carla Gugino, a sexy policewoman we admire naked in the glory of her 34 years, or even the young Brittany Murphy and Rosario Dawson.
As for the men, we must mention the superb Rutger Hauer and Powers Boothe, brothers tyrannizing mercilessly over the whole town, or again Elijah Wood, a murderous cannibal far from the peaceful and defenseless Frodo from The Lord of the Rings.