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Sin City (2005)

Frank Millers Sin City

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 126 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

If movie folklore is to be believed, Harrison Ford told George Lucas upon reading his ‘Star Wars’ script for the first time: “you can type this shit George, but you sure can’t say it.” I was reminded of that quote whilst watching ‘Sin City’, the painstakingly-faithful big screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s gritty graphic novels (COUGH! comics! COUGH!). There’s a Helluva lot of dialogue in here which might have gone down fantastically well on the printed page, but here – being spoken out loud by a procession of Hollywood’s finest (and Clive Owen) – it just doesn’t work.

Sadly, the script isn’t the only aspect of this eagerly-awaited flick which is less than terrific. But, before I go into all that, here’s a brief rundown of what it’s about. In the grimy, crime-torn metropolis of the title, a series of already-troubled types are in for a bit of a tough time. There’s Marv (Mickey Rourke), a sofa-jawed man-hulk with a complexion you could get a Land Rover stuck in. He’s looking to avenge the murder of an unlikely sexual conquest called Goldie (Jaime King), a one-man mission which leads him to a nippy little geezer (Elijah Wood) who could do with trimming his nails. Then there’s Dwight (Owen), a bloke who insists he can help the town’s plethora of leather-clad prostitutes when their uneasy truce with the local police is left shattered by an unfortunate accident. Finally, scar-faced cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) devotes his time to rescuing the 11-year-old Nancy (Makenzie Vega) from a sex beast (Nick Stahl), an heroic move which looks destined pay dividends when she turns out in later life to be Jessica Alba.

A devoted cross between old school film noir and the cult horror mags made famous by the likes of William Gaines, this is an incredible film to look at. Director Robert Rodriguez (he shares the job with Miller and also, for one scene, Quentin Tarantino) films the whole thing in a striking black and white, with only the occasional flash of colour along the way. The make-up department have also done a fantastic job, particularly with Rourke (although it has to be said that he’s never been Johnny Handsome, even at the best of times) and Stahl (who starts off looking fairly normal, but rapidly comes down with a serious case of jaundice).

Unfortunately though, it’s as if so much care and effort went into making this look and feel like an on-screen unfolding of the original source material that the guys at the helm forgot to give it anything else. Take away the talk, the heavy stylistics and the OTT violence and you’re left with a story which just ain’t up to much. It reaches the point where, after over two hours of this stuff, if you’ve seen one of these characters getting the living snot beaten out of them then you’ve seen them all – and I, for one, felt more than a little relieved when the end credits finally rolled.

It's Got: A jagged swastika in the botty, luminous blood, an Irishman called Murphy (how original!) who blows things up (how even more original!!) and more hookers than the Rugby World Cup.

It Needs: Someone to ask Clive Owen what his accent’s supposed to be. Each each sentence seems to see him alternate between a half-hearted attempt at American and his own monotone, snooze-inducing drawl.


It’s packed to the gunnels with sex and violence but, after all the hype, inflicting this level of disappointment upon us is the biggest sin of all.