Old Town sounds like my kind of paradise. Lethal ladies, free-flowing booze, and no yammering cops or whiny old do-gooders trying to tell you what to do? Frank Miller, I like the way you think.
This bloody, comic-styled, hard-boiled film noir is comprised of a few different stories. It opens and closes with “The Customer is Always Right,” which follows some pretty-boy hitman as he takes out his targets. The opening sequence is a sappy cheesefest with some chick who hired him to kill her because she couldn’t deal with her problems. The closing sequence is much better since the hitman’s next prey is a squealing little rat who thought she could cut deals with the devil and escape scot-free, but letting someone else do your dirty work is such an unsatisfying way to get your revenge. Nothing’s gonna beat the feel of my blade slicing right through Hayabusa’s spine, and I won’t let anyone cheat me out of the experience.
The other three stories are prime examples of how some people are cut out to be badasses, and others just give up too early. In “That Yellow Bastard,” Hartigan is a stubborn old cop with a bad heart. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have a genius like Miss Monday to hook him up with a new one, and Hartigan nearly kicks the bucket after saving a little girl from some scumbag pedophile. Turns out the pedo, Junior, is the only son of a powerful corrupt politician, and dear old dad isn’t very happy that Hartigan blew off his heir’s ear, hand, and pecker. Hartigan gets framed for all of Junior’s crimes and goes to jail, and the sweet little girl he saved grows up to be a sweet little stripper in Sin City (Old Town). She writes to Hartigan every week for 8 years, until one day a disgusting yellow blob of a man brings him a girl’s finger instead of a letter. Hartigan, crazy with worry, confesses to all of Junior’s crimes so that he can make parole, and stupidly leads the way to a very grown up Nancy, the girl he rescued. She’s completely in love with him, and he stupidly lets his guard down, allowing the yellow man to ambush them. It’s actually Junior, who has turned into a grotesque piss-yellow version of himself as a result of the many treatments he underwent to re-grow his junk. He drags Nancy off and leaves Hartigan to die by hanging, but doesn’t make sure the ex-cop is dead before he takes off. Hartigan’s a wily old dude and manages to cut himself free before the rope chokes him. He’s hot on Junior’s tail and arrives just in time to beat the shit out of Junior and save Nancy, and she is ready to shower him with… thanks. But what does the old coot do? Hartigan commits suicide to ensure that Junior’s old man would never go after Nancy to get to him. What a waste. If you’ve got something to protect, what’s the use of dying? The dead don’t care what happens to the living.
Marv, the monstrous-looking ruffian in “The Hard Goodbye,” is another BAMF whose “noble” self-sacrifice leads to his death. Some crazy cannibal is kidnapping and eating Sin City prostitutes, and Marv gets dragged into the fray when the lovely Goldie is murdered in Marv’s bed after their one-night-stand. Angry that someone would harm his ‘angel’ while he was sleeping right next to her, he leaves an impressive trail of bloodshed on his hunt to track down her killer, and easily takes out the police troops sent to frame him for her murder. I like this guy’s style. Marv eventually crosses paths with Wendy, Goldie’s twin sister, who thinks he’s Goldie’s murderer. After he convinces her of the truth, the two team up to take out Goldie’s real killer: Kevin. It’s hard to take Elijah Wood seriously after seeing him as a tiny tea-loving pushover with furry feet, but Kevin is a deadly murderer who moves as swiftly and quietly as a well-trained ninja. Marv manages to overpower Kevin after forcing him into close combat, and after chopping off Kevin’s limbs he lets Kevin’s guard dog devour the rest. Now that sounds like a satisfying revenge! Marv also takes out the powerful Cardinal who harbored Kevin and covered up his crimes, but gets caught in the process. I guess he felt like he didn’t need to run after he completed his revenge, so he just gave up and let them drag him off to the electric chair. You won’t catch me giving up so easily–what’s with these guys not valuing their own lives? Let revenge drive you, sure, but don’t let it define you.
There’s nothing in death but the end of life’s pleasures. Dwight, the deadpan hero of “The Big Fat Kill,” knows this just as well as I do. He manages to kick ass, cause carnage, and win over the ladies without throwing his life away. Dwight gets caught up in a turf war when the deadly women of Old Town unknowingly kill a drunk cop. To keep the peace between the police force and Old Town, Dwight helps Gail, the leader of Old Town’s femme fatales and his ex-lover, hide the bodies in a nearby tar pit. Unfortunately, there’s a rat in Old Town. The mob moves in and kidnaps Gail while Dwight is trying to dump the bodies, and they also send a team of mercenaries to sabotage him and retrieve part of the dead cop’s body to show as evidence. Luckily, one of Gail’s enforcers is a skilled ninja, Miho, who manages to rescue Dwight. Together they take out the mercenaries, retrieve the evidence, and set off to rescue Gail. Dwight trades the cop’s head for Gail, and then sets off the explosives he hid inside the head. The rest of Old Town’s female force shows up to help Dwight and Gail mow down the remaining mobsters, and the rat manages to scurry away with just an injury. Presumably, the reason why Dwight and Gail can’t be bothered to hunt down the rat themselves is that they’re too busy banging. Can’t really fault the guy, there.
All in all, Sin City pulls its different storylines together pretty well, and the action is always visceral, bloody, and satisfying. The babes are powerful and smart, and Miho is a decent ninja, even if she dresses like she just got out of bed. And really, who can say no to a combination like “Booze, Broads & Guns”? Besides Hayabusa, I mean–even a chick like Miho probably couldn’t dislodge the sword that’s already stuck up his ass.