Marv (Mickey Rourke) wakes up in the road in the middle of the night, wondering how he got there and what he's doing. As he picks himself up, he sees a couple of crashed vehicles, one of them a police car, and it begins to return to him: he'd been in his favourite bar, watching his favourite dancer Nancy (Jessica Alba), when he wound up outside noticing a group of rich kids setting fire to a couple of down and outs. Marv was a violent man, but he had his morals and what he saw went straight against them, so he stood up to the gang and they fled. He wasn't going to allow them to get away with it, which was how he ended up pursuing them in a stolen cop car and seeing to it they blundered into the Projects, where they were picked off...
Just another eventful evening in Sin City, but while the previous examples had rung the box office tills across the globe, this sequel/prequel (it was technically both) flopped badly in spite of following up a success with an equal amount of star power. Maybe it was that Quentin Tarantino was not involved that had the interest in the project waning, or that it was just too long after the fact to sustain the interest, but directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller seemed to be repeating themselves if anything, in the process and the storytelling if not the final results. "Liked the first Sin City?" this seemed to say, "Well A Dame to Kill For is more of the same!" What they neglected to mention was the novelty had gone.
By the time of this, comic book adaptations were synonymous with superheroes, which was not so much the case when the first instalment was released, and the black and white highlighted with splashes of colour visuals that came across as so cool to so many back in 2007 were not so special when the second hand quality of this follow-up was all too apparent. Not to mention each of the three stories took the form of one male lead character getting beaten up, then seduced by some femme fatale into doing her bidding, not necessarily in that order and even repeated more than once in each section, which lent an uninspired air, not to mention repetitive pacing. Then again, that had engaged plenty first time around, so it could be that Miller's comic originals had run out of ideas by that stage.
They had gathered an impressive cast, the absence of some faces from before due to various factors, including death in the case of Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan, notwithstanding, but every one of them were called upon to set their jaw and play it tough in a way that offered very little variation. The movie was accused of misogyny, which you imagine would have surprised the directors as they apparently thought depicting a bunch of women who wrap a bunch of dumb blokes around their little fingers were actually very strong characters, but then again painting them all as schemers was perhaps not as positive as they would believe. Eva Green was the highest profile of these, a film noir black widow who spends most of her scenes naked, sure, she was a powerful enough actress to handle such things, but you couldn't help but think she deserved better.
You could also argue, with some validity, that just because you run the gamut to inflicting pain, ruining lives and even killing people, you were not as strong as you would accept your image to be, as it's far stronger not to do those things and take the path of the straight and narrow, not something Sin City even considers, unless watching these folks run down their days into brutality was somehow an ironic observation, and not intended to be as nihilistically cool as it came across. Mickey Rourke still made a decent thug with a heart of gold, Jessica Alba sought to play it tough and gritty as one of those movie strippers who doesn't take all her clothes off, Josh Brolin got beat up a lot as he is caught in Green's web, Joseph Gordon-Levitt got beat up too in a lead up to a whimper of a denouement, Bruce Willis was truly superfluous as a ghost (er, spoiler?), Dennis Haysbert was supposed to be well-nigh invincible yet didn't look it, Rosario Dawson was oddly stilted in her hard as nails role, it went on, looking attractive enough but dramatically limp. Music by Rodriguez and Carl Thiel.