In Old Town – Basin City’s crime capital – it’s always night time and the sin is palpable. Walk down the right back alley and you can find anything. A hit-man for hire, a call girl for rent, a sleazy strip joint. Even the corrupt cops keep their distance and an uneasy truce keeps out the mob and the pimps. Old Town belongs to the sleazebags, weirdos and whores – who look after their own. Honest cops, vigilantes and heroes in general, need not apply.
Yet there are a few anti-hero types resident in Basin City and they’re not the sort to see the innocent victimised or recoil at the thought of some prolonged torture.
There’s Marv (Mickey Rourke) Old Town’s answer to the Hulk, face a mishmash of cuts and gashes plastered up and growling gravel-voiced. He’s out to avenge the murder of Goldie (Jaime King). Hartigan, (Bruce Willis) the cop who’s sworn to protect Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) from the beastly Roarke Jr (Nick Stahl). And Dwight (Clive Owen), ex-detective turned vigilante, who’s about to instigate a shift in the balance of power in Old Town.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-director Frank Miller (Miller’s graphic novels provide the basis for the screenplay). Sin City is an absolute gas from the moment it begins. Gloriously violent and unreservedly adult Sin City is a truly visceral experience, yet it’s stylised enough to not be perverse. Full of killin’-an’-blood-spillin’ it’s the perfect graphic novel / comic book adaptation. Adapted to screen directly from Miller’s pages, his graphic novel literally acting as storyboards for the celluloid version.
Sin City sparkles, unlike the drab sepia-vision that Sky Captain gave us. Actually entirely monochrome, but for kaleidoscopic flashes - her bewitching golden locks, that Yellow Bastard’s creepy skin, her piercing ice-blue eyes, the crimson blood - this is full colour in black and white.
Sin City’s characters are as one-dimensional as that from which they’re torn, but they serve purposes so single-minded and simple as to make complexity redundant. But of course this meant that the performances had to be perfect. And they are. Impressive in basic, brutal deliverance and tangible presence Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis are standouts amongst an astounding collection of some of Hollywood’s finest. Elijah Wood and Nick Stahl both drawing upon their own darksides to produce haunting performances.