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
Miller's art realized in fast paced nice film noir tribute.
I'll put my bottom line at the top so you can decide whether to read on. I can't recommend this film to the average cinema-goer. Instead, I will recommend it to those who are fans of Frank Miller, film noir, Robert Rodrigues, and to a lesser extent Quentin Tarantino. This is also not a film for feminists. Others should read on and decide if this is something they want to see.
The fact that Frank Miller was listed with Robert Rodriquez as co-director of this film, and the cleverly ambiguous film noir trailer hooked me. So, the spouse and I went to see it shortly after release, expecting exactly what we got - a very cleverly and interestingly shot film noir version of several Frank Miller stories taking place in Basin City, the locus of Miller's graphic novels of the same name as the film.
Quentin Tarantino guest directs one of the segments. I'm not sure which
Rodrigues' style is as often violent, but a bit more comic. Based on
some of the ridiculous violence of the film, I think it likely that QT had some influence on the other segments as well. My only objection to this film is really the quantity of absurd and frankly grotesque violence scenes. Though the violence is true to Miller's work, seeing it as a process creates a very different effect than Miller's art. Fortunately, Rodrigues' sense of humor also prevails in most of the most violent scenes. The use of colorization emphasizes the film's bloodiness through the only colors used in the film - red, ultra-white and yellow - comic exaggeration and a wonderfully eerie noir feel.
Predictably, this is a very dark film, and quite a bit more disturbing than the average commercial stuff.
What the spouse and I didn't expect was pleasantly surprising - one of the most artistically well done interpretations of the comic medium I have yet seen (and I have seen them all) and stand-out performances by Del Toro, Mickey Rourke and Willis. I expect nothing less from Del Toro, but I have to admit Rourke just blew me away as Miller's phenomenally ugly and invincible tough guy - Marv - who decides, for once, to do something good with his life. Rourke's character is played with such empathy that you won't want his segments to end - you will want him to become the final hero of the film. I was less enchanted with Clive Owen's portrayal of Dwight. Though this segment was good entertainment, I thought Owen could have given a more emotive performance. Elijah Wood was exceptionally creepy and well cast in his very brief role.
All of the heroic male characters (and this film is VERY much filmed from a stereotype film noir male point of view) have one common characteristic - they are all very tough critters fighting against all odds against endemic corruption, murder and injustice, but not at all afraid to indulge in it to further their own ends. The vignettes are loosely but satisfactorily connected. But the plots are less important than the way the film FEELS. The film mixes hopelessness with fearlessness and fatalism to the extent that you'll feel like an honorable death ending a brief life is far more appealing than a lengthy life devoid of self-respect. It's a really well done homage to Comic Book as an art form, and the film noir motif. Whoever thought of putting Rodriguez and Miller together on this one deserves a nod from fans of both genres.
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