We are all familiar with the "new age" comics seen on 24 hour cartoon channels which have realistic images and lots of violence and are usually quite horrible (unlike the loveable Tom and Jerry stips of yore.) Frank Miller is the author of several graphic novels titled Sin City - a city where, as the name suggests, life is stripped of all decency and reduced to sleaze and violence and the pursuit of your base instincts. Robert Rodriguez (along with Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino) brought together a galaxy of A-list actors (Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Josh Hartnett etc.) and brought these garish cartoons to life in a movie by the same name. This movie is essentially a set of 3 'shorts' adapted into a 2 hour narrative.
So, if I find new age cartoons grotesque why am I reviewing this film? My answer is for the sheer vividness of the images. One often sees movies where cartoons have been brought to life. But this is a movie where real people go through the motions of fighting, shooting, killing, knifing, eating other people (yes you got that right - cannibalism is one of the subplots) but the whole effect is of watching a cartoon strip slowly unfold before your eyes. This movie is entirely shot in black and white with a judicious dash of colour... (I have included a shot from the movie as an attachment to give you a general idea). The effect is very stylish and a visual delight.
To get back to mundane aspect of the movie - a story.... there really isn't much of a story... a cop (Bruce Willis) fighting a paedophile (Nick Stahl who is also the hideous "Yellow Bastard") and happens to be the all powerful Senator Rourke's son; a do gooder (Clive Owen) fighting a no good cop (an inspired performance by Benicio Del Toro of "Traffic" fame) to maintain the balance of power between the city cops and the hookers; and a grieving lover (Mickey Rourke) avenging the death of his lover (Jaime King) at the hands of an unknown assasin.
So is this movie for the lily livered people? I think it is... as a thumb rule I would suggest that if you have been able to stomach (and enjoy) Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill series, then this movie is certainly for you.