Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Running Time: 124 mins
Sin City is an American film about the lives of three different people caught up in the dark and dangerous world of the gritty Basin City.
There are few films out there as stylistically exciting and bold as Sin City, of that there is no doubt. However, as visually striking as the film is, it’s a painfully dull watch, with such a thin, droning story that it’s difficult to stay fully engaged past the first act.
In balance, I didn’t particularly like Sin City, but I know that it’s a film with an acquired taste, and would be an absolute masterpiece to fans of graphic novels. And that’s where I want to start.
As much as I struggled to love Sin City, the film looks absolutely spectacular. It may come across as CGI-heavy or perhaps even too stylised, but that’s exactly the point, as it mimics the bold, comic-book visual style of dark and gritty graphic novels.
The amount of work put into the cinematography, score, set design, production design and more in Sin City is frankly astonishing, and as the film opens straight off the bat with its eye-catching visual style, you’re hooked almost instantly.
With masterful use of colour grading that really brings to life the film’s homage to classic noir, along with its live-action portrayal of the distinct artistry of graphic novels, it’s difficult to find a bad thing to say about Sin City, at least on the surface.
And sadly, the brilliance of the film’s style is perhaps the most scathing indictment of its story. Tedious, moody, slow and painfully repetitive, for every moment of exhilarating cinematography, Sin City features long, long, long periods of dry nothingness when it comes to the narrative.
It’s evident that this is one of the most blatant cases of style over substance that there is, but the film has parallels with all-time classics of cinema that work really well.
The clearest comparison you can draw comes with Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, which shares immense cinematic style and an episodic narrative structure with Sin City.
The big difference? Pulp Fiction turned seemingly inconsequential scenes into endlessly riveting and exciting viewing on account of its ingenious dialogue, great action and brilliant performances.
Sin City, on the other hand, takes what seem like very important scenes and turns them into dull, droning drivel, with next to no charisma nor emotional depth to keep you in the slightest bit interested.
As much as directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller want to make this a great neo-noir thriller, it’s clear that he’s too caught up in nailing the film’s style to perfection to really bring together an interesting or even coherent story.
If there ever were a film you could call a ‘mixed bag’, then it’s without doubt Sin City. Utterly brilliant in its use of bold, hyper-stylised visuals and production, the film looks absolutely spectacular, but there’s so little beneath that surface that it’s still a painfully, painfully dull watch. So, that’s why I’m giving Sin City a 6.2 overall.