Robert Rodgriguez continues his outlaw ways and we all benefit. It seems cruel to say I enjoyed Sin City; it's a brutal film with no winners and a whole lot of losers, but that's part of the ride. You don't tend to look for heroes among hookers and hoods. Like the best movies, though, it's true to the source -- in this case, Frank Miller's cruel and unflinching ride through the underbelly of a vaguely noirish hell drawn in jagged black and white, punctuated elliptically with splashes of garish color when that world is ripped open with bullets or blades.
The gore and grimness are lightened only by the black humor; sometimes when it's coming down so heavy you gotta wear a hat, what can you do but laugh? Fleeting moments of recognizable "good" -- like Bruce Willis' grizzled cop struggling against the odds to save one innocent girl -- get ground under the relentless heel of this corrupt dead-end town. Everyone in Basin City is suspect, from the top to the bottom, and that's a bottom that seems to keep receding farther and farther into the murkiness. So you take sides, latch onto the merest glimmer of "right" whether it's the tough crook out for revenge on behalf of the hooker who was kind to him once, or the stripper who realizes the fragile power she's carved out among the worst of the worst is about to collapse.
Willis is good, Rourke (!), too. Owen -- yeah. Rosario Dawson -- awesome. Miller's own cameo is cool.
There are grisly (and inventive) beheadings, flying bullets, lots of pointy knives and the tawdriest behavior imaginable. Images that will float up to the top of your mind in the wee hours like bloated corpses quickly become the norm. It's a travelogue of the perverse and cruel, and not for everyone -- but artistry in blood, and black and white. Go, throw back a quick scotch first if you need it, but go.