Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
Hope in the Bible
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
About murder in the Bible
Death in the Bible
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer
Why is there a disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of America? Answer
What is being done to change the values of Hollywood? Answer
|Featuring||Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan), Alexis Bledel (Becky), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Benicio Del Toro (Jackie Boy), Clive Owen (Dwight), Mickey Rourke (Marv), Bruce Willis (Hartigan), Elijah Wood (Kevin), Devon Aoki (Miho), Powers Boothe (Senator Roark), See all »|
|Director||Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller|
|Producer||Dimension Films, Troublemaker Studios, Elizabeth Avellán, Bill Scott, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein|
Prequel/Sequel: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (2014)
This really strange and horrific film is based on a graphic novel (comic book) series that I knew nothing about. But it doesn’t take long to see where the movie is headed, and the interlocking stories and plots aren’t that complicated. Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi”; “Desperado;” “From Dusk Till Dawn”) directed, while Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill”) is listed as a Special Guest Director, and the novel creator Frank Miller is listed as an apparently-honorary Co-director. That alone should warn the squeamish to beware.
The film was shot entirely “green screen” and has many clearly computer-generated yet stunning backgrounds. It’s presented in B&W with just an occasional splash of color (some true-color and some stylized). The dialogue is cheesy, but after a while you get used to it and it sounds authentic within the context of the story. Imagine a hard-R version of the “Tracer Bullet” sequences in “Calvin and Hobbes.” As a ShowBiz person, I admit I was intrigued by the technical and artistic aspects. The cinematography and special effects are perfect, and the acting is uniformly good (deliberately stilted and comic-book style, but everyone is on the same page).
The setting is not Vegas, but a large city full of skyscrapers. The place’s actual name is Basin City, but the first two letters on the city limits sign are blurred out.
There are three distinct yet overlapping primary storylines, plus some minor material. Each of the primary storylines has one male “hero” character: John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is a cop, Dwight (Clive Owen) is apparently a P.I., and Marv (Mickey Rourke) is just a street fighter. In all three cases, they’re on personal missions, operating outside the law as vigilantes. In the “Old Town” sequence, Dwight is helped in his quest by a collection of tough, leather-clad hookers who have an understanding with the cops that they take care of their own problems within their “turf.”
Although the heroes are better than the bad guys and are in some cases willing to sacrifice their own lives for others, they’re morally flawed antiheroes. Hartigan saves an 11-year-old girl from a rapist/murderer (Nick Stahl), and then further helps her by taking the rap for something he didn’t do; eight years later, the girl (Jessica Alba) is an exotic dancer, has carried a crush on Hartigan all this time, and wants to sleep with him. He protests (“I’m old enough to be your grandfather”), and partly holds out but partly gives in. Tough-guy Marv is asleep with a woman after having sex with her, when a stealthy little guy, Kevin (Elijah Wood), creeps in silently and murders her. Kevin is a cannibal and has a collection of hookers’ heads mounted on his wall. His protector, Roman Catholic Cardinal Roark (Rutger Hauer), is a cannibal, also.
In short, with bad guys this bad, characters who in another context would be bad guys become good guys by contrast. A common cinematic trick, used to perfection here.
There are several instances of women in only thongs or g-strings, with graphic breast and buttock nudity. There’s at least one instance of simulated sex, a lot of implied sex, and a great deal of sexual-themed tension throughout.
The violence is deliberately graphic and exploitative, with a high body count and all kinds of blood-splatter, and a lot of it has sexual overtones. Wounding, torture and death by guns, knives, explosions, blunt instruments, arrows, hanging, electrocution, “dirty swirlies,” and even being eaten alive by dogs. Severed arms, legs and heads. One man’s throat is cut so he’s ALMOST decapitated, and there’s joking about him being a Pez Dispenser. One man shoots another man’s genitals off; and in a later confrontation between the two, after the genitals have been surgically restored, he rips off the new set with his bare hand.
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
The street language is very rough, and includes about 100 profanities plus a lot of fancy innuendo, but it could have been much worse. With everything that’s being shown on screen, too much talking about it would probably be redundant.
The negative themes include disrespect for authority, as the story emphasizes corrupt cops, corrupt politicians and corrupt clergy. There are also themes of lesbianism and sadomasochism. There’s no positive spiritual content.
Since the story is comic-book based, some characters perform superhuman feats (impossible martial arts moves; jumping from great heights without harm; staying alive after multiple bullet wounds). One character, who is clearly dead, keeps waking up and talking. (There are other instances of people being alive after being dead, but that may be due to the overlapping storylines being presented somewhat out of sequence.)
Whatever I’ve described here, it’s inadequate to fully convey the force of the film. It has no overall purpose, other than pushing the envelope just for the sake of “art.” It didn’t need to be made, and no one needs to see it. A mature adult who lives right and who has absolutely no imbalances or secret sins could possibly watch it with a minimum of personal side-effects. Anyone else REALLY needs to stay as far away from this kind of material as possible.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Response from a reader—After reading some of the reviews on this page, the one above in particular, I felt compelled to reply. Where in the Bible does it state that our faith overcomes the filth that we set before ourselves? You obviously aren’t thinking of Philippians 4:8, the verse that says,
“whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
That is the verse that many true Christians think about when they choose not to pollute their minds with obscene filth, such as that that is portrayed in “Sin City.”
Nor does choosing not to watch such movies blind people from the truth. All you have to do is read the front page of any newspaper to get a taste of the horrific sinfulness that abounds in this world. I know only too well that this world is a sinful place. I don’t need to further confirm it by watching or reading vile material.
“Sin City’s” purpose is not to open our minds to the dire world we live in. Its purpose is to entertain. If you want a real taste of the true condition of this Earth, get out of the comfort of the movie theater and go spend some time in Iraq. Go read about the concentration camps of World War II. That’s more than enough for me.