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Sin City

2005 film based on the dark and violent comic books by writer/artist Frank Miller.

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Yum, Yum, a Delicious R-Rated Adult Themed Film

  • Apr 10, 2005
  • by
Pros: One of kind special effects that hold true to the comic graphics; performances.

Cons: The relentless violence makes this movie seriously unsuitable for children.

The Bottom Line: Not for the faint of heart; see it on the big screen for the full effect.

I was warned. I was warned before going to see this movie by countless reviews and reviewers that this (Sin City) was going to be a one of a kind experience, never mind the often random, heinous violence, it was the special effects and graphics that have every one buzzing. The stark grayscale background punctuated here and there with splashes of vivid color used throughout Sin City is revolutionary and a feat for the eyes to behold; it is like view the actual pages of a comic book. The only thing missing were the ubiquitous dialog bubbles that adorn the pages of all modern comic books.

The Story-Line

Sin City springs from the imaginative mind of author/illustrator Frank Miller and his ultra-graphic novels by the same name. The plotlines include elements from the stories The Babe Wore Red, The Hard Goodbye, That Yellow Bastard, etc. The resulting movie (actually three inter-related stories) is brought to the screen with wonderful faithfulness; indeed Miller himself is co-director along with Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino.

Fictional Basin City, a.k.a. Sin City, is a cesspool, where the sun never seem to shine; a city that exists under the brutal thumbs of an unholy coalition of corruption. The clergy (no surprise here), the police, and a federal senator rule the town and it people without mercy or morals.

Sin City opens on a woman standing upon a rooftop in the pouring rain, her red lips and gleaming red dress a stark contrast to the dismal back and white of the cityscape around her. A man (Josh Hartnett portraying “The Man”) follows her, and offers her a cigarette, and then strikes up a conversation. Their passionate exchange however, is brief for “The Man” is an assassin sent to dispatch the woman, and he does so with both the detached aloofness necessary for his craft, and compassion; after he shots her, he stays with her until she dies. This unexplained bit of violence sets the tone for Sin City, a rocket ride in which the viewer is treated to the worst and best in humankind.

From there, the second prolog hatches and out pops the last good cop in Sin City, Hartigan, portrayed by Bruce Willis, who has a bad heart and a good soul. With one day left until he retires and with orders from his doctor to take it easy, Hartigan nevertheless pursues one last case, that of 11-year-old Nancy who has been abducted by a rapist-murderer, (Nick Stahl) who just happens to be the son of the aforementioned federal Senator (Powers Boothe).

But Hartigan’s partner, who is of course bad, tries to stop him and is clocked for his troubles. And Hartigan’s heart is not cooperating, but, Hartigan somehow manages to rescue little blond Nancy, shooting her abductor’s hand off, and reliving him of his groin, but then is shot himself by his crooked partner. Nancy manages to get away, but…

In the first story a freakish career criminal with a soft heart for the ladies, Marv (an unrecognizable Mickey Rourke), seeks the killer of a prostitute, Goldie (Jaime King) from Olde Town; he means to avenge her death. She (Goldie) was nice to him, taking him to her bed and showing him kindness when others shunned him. He is framed for her murder and after escaping the cops in an orgy of violence, he show up at the apartment of his parole officer Lucille (Carla Gugino). He eventually tracks Goldie’s murder to a farmhouse outside Sin City and gets into a one-sided fight with a very spirited Kevin (Elijah Wood) and is captured.

He awakes to find himself in a cell with a dozen women’s heads and Lucille minus an arm. He escapes and the orgy of violence continues until he gets his man Cardinal Roark (Rutger Hauer)…

The second story opens on the apartment of waitress Shellie (Brittany Murphy) who we met, briefly, in the first mini, as she argues with her ex-boyfriend Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro). Meanwhile, Dwight (Clive Owen) is one the inside of the apartment urging Shellie to let him in; eventually she does, along with his gang, but Dwight gets Jackie Boy alone and warns him is graphic terms to stay away from Shellie.

Humiliated, Jackie Boy finds himself in Old Towne, haunt of the prostitutes of Sin City who have entered into an agreement with the cops to be self-policing as long as a cop is not killed therein. Once in Ole Towne, lead by Gail (Rosario Dawson), Jackie Boy comes across Becky (Alexis Bledel), and attempts to get her into his car; she refuses and he pulls a gun: big mistake. Ole Towne enforcer Miho (Devon Aoki) makes shot work of Jackie Boy and his gang. Only after Jackie Boy is killed do they—Dwight and Gail—find out that he is a cop. And so begins the rush to cover up his murder lest the mob and the police declare war on the prostitutes of Ole Towne …

The third story takes up the story of Hartigan in the hospital all broken up. He is framed by Senator Rourk, and sent to jail, but not before little 11-year-old Nancy visits him in the hospital and promises to never forget him. She subsequently writes Hartigan a letter a week for eight years and then suddenly stops which prompts Hartigan to confess to being a child molester in order to get out of jail and find her. And find her he does, all grown up in the guise of sexy, sultry Jessica Alba…

My Thoughts

Many have equated the violence in Sin City to that of Kill Bill Volume I, and I agree only to a point. The violence in Kill Bill Volume I was graphic and oft-times over the top to the point of being overly-gross; the blood and gore splashed across the screen in very colorful detail. Not so in Sin City. Because the movie only flirts with color, and most scenes have a comic book look and feel to them, the violence though present, and graphic in execution, is often muted on the screen, giving it an unreal quality.

That is not to say that Sin City is any place for a child or even a teen; this is purely an adult movie in a world where increasingly PG-13 movies dominate the silver-screen landscape. In addition to the almost minute violence in Sin City, nudity and sex and sexual undertones also command their share of the screen.

The central premise seems to be that human beings are highly complex and adaptive creatures capable of great evil, but also great compassion and caring. The three heroes of the film Hartigan, Marv, and Dwight, couldn’t be more different in their mannerisms and motivations, but all have light and dark personalities that drive the men to risk all to protect the fairer sex, even at the cost of their own lives. We are treated to fleeting glimpses of what makes them tick and that was enough for to me root for them, to care what happened to them despite the havoc and death they left in their respective wakes.

The female leads—and their were many—were all alluring in their own way; even Carla Gugino her hair cropped short in a Dorothy Hamilton coif was tantalizingly sultry in her role of the lesbian parole officer. Jessica Alba, was okay, not outstanding as Nancy the older; her portrayal of the 19-year-old love interest of Hartigan was decidedly wood and devoid of real emotion. In sharp contrast, Rosario Dawson’s depiction of the prostitute Gail was deliciously wicked, sultry, and sexy; I love this woman!

At the end of Sin City, I was not repulsed by the violence, nor was I entirely satisfied by the end of the story; I wanted more, but there was no more to tell in this movie anyway. There were loose ends to tie up, lives to follow, happy endings to pursue. Perhaps I am too much a product of my environment for wanting a tidy ending; after all real life is seldom tidy or adorned with happy endings; it is an ever ending struggle for survival for most of us, a series of gray disappointments punctuated by a smattering of color filled happiness that is often all too fleeting.

I only hope they were setting us up for Sin City II…

Principle Characters:

Bruce Willis: Hartigan
Mickey Rourke: Marv
Jessica Alba: Nancy Callahan
Clive Owen: Dwight
Nick Stahl: Rourk Jr./Yellow Bastard
Powers Boothe: Senator Rourk
Rutger Hauer: Cardinal Roark
Elijah Wood: Kevin
Rosario Dawson: Gail
Benicio Del Toro: Jackie Boy
Jaime King: Goldie/Wendy
Devon Aoki: Miho
Brittany Murphy: Shellie
Michael Clarke Duncan: Manute
Carla Gugino: Lucille
Alexis Bledel: Becky
Devon Aoki: Miho
Josh Hartnett: The Man


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More Sin City (2005 film) reviews
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2012
This is a movie that's had steadily-declining appeal for me.  I loved this film when I first saw it in September of 2005, but as I watched it more and more, I found myself liking it less and less.  Now I've seen it enough to where I really don't see many redeeming factors in it.      So many people have gushed over Rodriguez's "comic book" visual style to match the way Frank Miller's original comics were drawn, but I'm not impressed …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
SO NOT in Las Vegas.
I just rewatched The Spirit not too long ago and for all it's goofy meandering, it's look was clearly borrowed from this movie and Frank Miller a noted comic legend who lately has had more misses then hits in his written works-was a part of BOTH movies.  Taking another look at this film reminded me how odd and frankly great the film was. The plot has a running theme of corruption and sinful people in all three of it's stories.  The first is about a hard headed street fighter …
Quick Tip by . June 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Look, anybody dumb enough to LIKE this thing is simply voting for style over substance. All it has is a unique directorial style which is black and white and regularly flashes color in and out. Once the novelty of the directorial style and comic book-like appearance wear off, all you've got is just another movie about criminals with hearts of gold going on quests of redemption. The only difference is that with the constant color flashing, this one can potentially induce seizures.
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is a complicated rating. It is a 4 minus 3 rating. The first time through the stylized nature of the film is fantastic, but when I watched it a second time, it un-wowed me, but it's worth the first time through for anyone unless they don't like hard-boiled graphic novels.
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Probably one of the most accurate transitions from comic page to screen.
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
Seedy and sleazy comic noir about the bums, scum and filth in Sin City where just about everything can happen and does. Awesome if at times creepy fun.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Love the cinematography for this film, the black and white really does well for the storyline and comic feel.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Three tales of lowdown hitmen, cops, hookers and crazies in a ugly metropolis. Sort of like Pulp Ficition ironically enough with more flash, less pop culture and more monologing. Not bad but definitely not for all tastes.
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Theatrical Poster
WARNING: This film contains graphic stylized violence including torture, as well as sexuality/nudity, coarse language, and disturbing themes.       Only a sick and twisted mind could conceive of the warped stories that are found in the graphic novel series Sin City. Frank Miller is just such a mind. His morbid fascinations with corrupt authority figures, hypocritical religions, sleazy yet strong-willed women, and violent anti-heroes are thrust into the spotlight in his work. …
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Amazing movie that has been in my top 10 fav movies for 5 years now. the plot, script, cinematography and style are awesome. Just waiting for Sin City 2!!!
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #77
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


Starring Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Elijah Wood, Clive Owen, Nick Stahl, Rutger Hauer, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson
Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Writer:  Frank Miller

Product Description
Sin city is infested with criminals crooked cops & sexy dames: some searching for vengeance some for redemption and others both. Studio: Buena Vista Home Video Release Date: 09/01/2006 Starring: Bruce Willis Mickey Rourke Run time: 126 minutes Rating: R Director: Frank Miller
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