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John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.
A seemingly indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.
Four tales of crime adapted from Frank Miller's popular comics, focusing around a muscular brute who's looking for the person responsible for the death of his beloved Goldie, a man fed up with Sin City's corrupt law enforcement who takes the law into his own hands after a horrible mistake, a cop who risks his life to protect a girl from a deformed pedophile, and a hitman looking to make a little cash. Written by
If I was to use one word to describe this film it would have to be....Violent! if i was allowed two words I would add 'Visceral'.
The movie is two hours long and is structured in a similar way to Pulp Fiction. A bunch of stories set in a consistent world, with characters falling in and out of each others plot lines. On the whole it works brilliantly, and for the duration there isn't a boring moment. It is High octane, million miles and hour storytelling, and it EASILY Robert Rodriguez's best film.
Allowing Frank Miller to write the script was a fantastic move, as the dialogue is edgy, witty and VERY faithful to the original material. In fact, many many lines are just taken straight from the pages. likewise, the camera behaves like a moving cartoon box out. The framing of all the key scenes is SO faithful to the printed page that it produces a truly original look that is fairly incomparable. Visually its a true original. Sometimes these visuals fall down, there are some very very obvious digital shots that don't quite gel, but on the whole the cinematography is jaw dropping. You could literally pause the movie at almost any point and just hang that frame on a wall, its that beautiful.
Performances are good all round. Mickey Rourke absolutely nails Marv, and the girls of Old Town are all as beautiful as they are deadly. The other standout for me was Elijah Wood, who was truly chilling. Bruce Willis puts in a solid, if unspectacular turn as Hartigan.
The film isn't entirely void of criticism. there's some fudging of time lines with Hartigans character (do we really buy Bruce Willis as a nearly 70 year old man?) and the jumps from story to story are jarring initially, but once it settles into itself the ride is fantastic.
My other main criticism is the same I have with Quentin Tarantinos work. That every character and every voice in the movie is the same. This is more a fault of the source material, but when every single person is a wise cracking, hard boiled tough guy (even the women) then it kind of distills the effect of their toughness. In a film that is predominantly voice over driven, it is hard to differentiate characters when they all sound exactly the same, both tonally, and in the language they use. Even Marv, who's supposed to be a meat head, talks in gravelly prose that would make Bukowski feel like a Nancy.
Other Minor niggles are hardly worth mentioning. From a technical standpoint the sound effects are WAY to loud. All of the punches, gunshots etc are given such ridiculous prominence on the track that they threaten to make mockery of the violence. I actually found that i didn't want any more guns fired cos it was hurting my ears! all in all though, its one hell of a ride, and only a couple of notches below Pulp Fiction on the 'Oh my god that film was cool-o-meter'.
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