The Red Right Hand

There Is No Justice Without Sin

Robert Rodriguez
Frank Miller
Bruce Willis
Mickey Rourke
Clive Owen

I am an incredibly huge Sin City fan, first of the comic series and now the film. I firmly believe that this film is more of a visual-revolution than the latest instalments of Star Wars. I know that’s a dangerous way to open a review; I may now have either put off those who don’t like Star Wars or instilled hate in Star Wars fans who believe that there couldn’t be anything better than Star Wars, but I assure you this film has nothing to do with Star Wars - I’m sure you’re all sick to death of hearing about Star Wars [see it‘s reach, I’ve opened a review about Sin City and mentioned Star Wars six times].

Very simply, this is a collection of three stories set in a fictitious American metropolis, based on the seven graphic novels by Frank Miller. The film’s main heroes are as equally diverse as the plots they follow. We open on the test screening Rodriguez showed Miller in an attempt to pitch the film to him (incidentally it was also shown to some of the actors to convince them that this wasn’t going to be another dire comic adaptation). It shows a young tuxedo-clad man [Josh Hartnett] comforting a young lady at a party before executing her, it’s such a brutal opening that sets the pace for the film so well. First gripping you with glorious visuals (and not just the cg backdrops or spot-lifts but the fact that it’s essentially a black & white film), then lulling you with the film noir script then betraying and crippling you with a horrific moment of violence.

The first story - which doubles as the last, as it’s divided into two parts - introduces Hartigan [Willis], an ageing cop who’s being forced into retirement because of a weak heart. He’s chasing down a lead which should help him find and kill/convict a child molester, who also happens to be the son of a senator. Another indication as to what’s to come: crooked officials, betrayals, sick and sordid suggestive behaviour. Following Hartigan’s betrayal and hospitalisation we move onto the second story.

Mickey Rourke hasn’t done much in a while, nothing mainstream except for his roll in Man On Fire, this is his return to form. Rourke plays Marv, a giant of a man with a face like a train wreck. After a night of ecstasy with a girl he’d never met before Marv wakes up to find a corpse lying next to him which leads him to begin working his way to the source. The third story is Dwight’s story. We’ve had a very brief introduction to Dwight during Marv’s visit to Kadie’s bar. Dwight’s drive is a little simpler; he’s simply trying to stop a few drunken guys from ruining some unfortunate lady’s night. Things escalate and complications arise for Dwight and his company of ladies. This leads nicely into the second part of Hartigan’s story, the tale of one man’s isolation, one girl’s love and one yellow bastard getting his sick thrills. I really don’t want to get into the plots with too much detail because I genuinely feel that this film develops in such a way that anything I say will ruin the overall feeling and effect.

If I had to pick I would say that Marv’s storyline is perhaps the most enjoyable, perhaps because although it’s been recently dubbed ‘The Hard Goodbye,’ it remains the original Sin City. I know a lot of people have already slated Dwight’s story as the weakest because he’s not defending something personal, he’s merely showing off. This is no fault of the actors, director or even the writer, it’s simply because this is Frank Miller’s second Dwight story. The one featured in the film is “The Big Fat Kill” but the one prior to this was entitled “A Dame To Kill For,” Miller’s second Sin City tale, which was a personal quest for the love of a woman (the driving force behind ‘The Hard Goodbye’ & ‘That Yellow Bastard’). Luckily we’ll get a chance to see these in the sequels coming in the next two years. Another point to make is with regards to the look and feel of this film. Considering that it's been filmed almost purely on green-screen studios Sin City looks, sounds and breathes like a living city. There is not a single shot that hasn't had some form of computer enhancement or alterations, some people will instantly say that doesn't make for a good film, but all this does, is adds to an already mesmerising story. I'll be the first one to agree that these days films rely too heavily on visual effects and computer graphics but all these effects are trying to do is bring Miller's original creation to life, furthering the story as opposed to compensating for the lack of one.

Visually, this film is in a league of its own, the names pulled in are unbelievable, the stories are classic and gritty, the violence is horrific and the sex inescapable. This film is a tour de force like nothing in the cinema today, original, classy and most importantly true to the comic. This is why I have given Sin City a 10, this is also why I’m elevating it to my Top 25.

Release Date:
3 June 2005

The Scene To Look Out For:
I know this sounds corny, but the credit sequence was my favourite scene. I saw these huge cinematic names paired with characters I've read about and wondered how they had managed to change the actors I know into the pictures accompanying their names. I was nothing more than a giggly mess as I watched it for the first time and it still seems to instil a quiet squeal within me.

Notable Characters:
Very, very difficult, but if I had to revert back to the comics, I would tell you that my favourite characters were Wallace (Hell And Back) and Dwight. Also considering that I made mention in my Closer review that I hated Clive Owen and had no faith in him for the role of Dwight - but he managed to pull it off. Plus, every guy watching this film will identify one of the heroes; the brute in us will want to be Marv, the compassionate parts within us will choose Hartigan and that bit that makes you think, 'That's so cool!' will crave the part of Dwight.

Highlighted Quote:
"Get Senator Roark behind bars? Sure; and maybe after I pull off that miracle I'll go and punch out God"

In A Few Words:

Total Score:

Matthew Stogdon