Another nocturnal trip into ultra violence in a city full of dangerous women and broken men. Read our review.

The none-more-black crime noir makes a much delayed return after a nine-year gap and somehow the graphic novelty has worn off. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have re-jigged the cast and re-arranged the furniture for this prequel to the original movie and again we are given a set of portmanteau vignettes so hard-boiled they’ll crack your incisors.

Cue fountains of blood, spraying with white-out-of-black comic book violence, tough guys with morals, and broads with hearts of gold, all scrambling about in the perpetually monochrome, nocturnal Basin City.   

Mickey Rourke’s granite-faced Marv beats up some rich kid punks playing at being Clockwork Orange droogs and gets himself into trouble in Old Town; ice-cool poker shark Johnny (a taciturn Joseph Gordon-Levitt) enrages a crooked senator (played with magnetic badness by the great Powers Booth) by beating him fair and square at a the gaming table in the back room of Kadie’s Saloon; and strip club innocent Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) swigs from a bottle of vodka, cracks her whip and seeks revenge for the death of former boyfriend John (Bruce Willis).  

Dark streets ahead of the lot, however, is the title tale. Dwight McCarthy is back and this time he’s played by Josh Brolin. He’s gone straight but his demons circle around him and his fate looks sealed when duplicitous femme fatale and former flame Ava Lord (an extraordinarily dark performance from Eva Green) lures him into a fiendish honey trap.

Throw in the reappearance of Old Town girl gang lead by Gail (Rosario Dawson), deadly oriental assassin Miho (Jamie Chung), a neat turn by Lady Gaga as a tough-talking waitress, and Christopher Lloyd as a quack doctor who shoots up heroin before working miracles, and the sprawling cast of freaks carry it all off with chutzpah.

But the movie belongs to Booth as Senator Roarke and Green as Ava. They both radiate sheer malevolence, making the rest of the players look as insubstantial as the paper they were originally printed on.

It’s all style over content which is just fine for a high-concept exercise in hackery and cliche. It certainly looks great but there is nothing going on under the surface sheen. Already a dead duck at the US box office, the thrill may be gone in Sin City.

Alan Corr