It's taken nearly 10 years for filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and graphic novelist Frank Miller to get around to making this sequel, but it was worth the wait because the technical advancements make this second triptych of stories even more visually stunning, and the emotional resonance is even stronger. This is a lean, mean noir thriller that doesn't waste a single moment as it rips through three interlocking plots that centre on revenge for the events of the first movie.
Two people are out to get even with the ruthlessly nasty politician Roark (Powers Booth). Watched over by the hulking Marv (Mickey Rourke), gun-toting stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) is still heartbroken after Roark killed her beloved Hartigan (Bruce Willis), who appears to her as a ghostly apparition. And Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is determined to bring Roark down by humiliating him at his own high-stakes poker game, even though merely having uncanny good luck might not be enough. But the main story centres on private eye Dwight (Josh Brolin), who is stopped in his tracks when he encounters his old flame Ava (Eva Green), a bombshell who has power over most men she meets. She asks for help with a domestic problem, and Dwight is powerless to walk away even though he knows something is fishy.
As before, these stories unfold exactly as they would in a graphic novel, with blunt dialogue and strikingly visual imagery black and white that's spotted with flashes of colour. Aside from Ava's blue coat, that colour is usually red: hair, nails, lips, but not blood, which splashes in glaring white. It looks fantastic in (ahem) eye-popping 3D. And it's fiercely violent as death hovers around the residents of Basin City, especially the lawless Old Town district. But there's just as much emphasis on surging passion, including some surprisingly graphic sexuality that plays up how helpless men are around a scantily clad woman. Indeed, it's rare to see an action film in which the women are so resolutely in charge.
The enormous cast of characters is sometimes rather confusing, but film is unfussy and straightforward, relentlessly entertaining as it piles on wry comedy and dark feeling. Green walks off with the movie as the staggeringly ruthless Ava, vamping through each scene without bothering to put on any clothing while revealing her own weaknesses along the way. Her scenes with Brolin are surprisingly involving emotionally, as is the desperation that pushes Alba's and Gordon-Levitt's characters, two tenacious young people trying to right the wrongs of their past, probably without any hope of success. Because this is a politician they're dealing with, and we all know how impossible it is to clean up a corrupt system.
Run time: 102 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd August 2014
Box Office USA: $13.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $35.1M
Distributed by: Dimension Films
Production compaines: Troublemaker Studios, Aldamisa Entertainment, Demarest Films, Miramax Films, Quick Draw Productions, Solipsist Film
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 71 Rotten: 89
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Producer: Robert Rodriguez, Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L'Heureux, Mark C. Manuel, Alexander Rodnyansky
Screenwriter: Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke as Marv, Jessica Alba as Nancy, Josh Brolin as Dwight, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, Rosario Dawson as Gail, Bruce Willis as Hartigan, Eva Green as Ava, Powers Boothe as Senator Roark, Dennis Haysbert as Manute, Ray Liotta as Joey, Christopher Meloni as Mort, Jeremy Piven as Bob, Christopher Lloyd as Kroenig, Jaime King as Goldie / Wendy, Juno Temple as Sally, Stacy Keach as Wallenquist, Marton Csokas as Damien Lord, Jude Ciccolella as Lt. Liebowitz, Jamie Chung as Miho, Lady Gaga as Bertha, Alexa PenaVega as Gilda, Julia Garner as Marcie, Billy Blair as Louie
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