REVIEW: GROSSE POINT BLANK

 

CAST

John Cusack (Identity)
Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting)
Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Jeremy Piven (Kiss The Girls)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Barbara Harris (Peggy Sue Got Married)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
K. Todd Freeman (Eraser)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Carlos Jacott (Firefly)
Jenna Elfman (EDtv)
Ann Cusack (Sully)

John Cusack and Minnie Driver in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)Professional assassin Martin Blank finds himself depressed and disillusioned with his work. A major problem is his chief rival Grocer, whose effort to incorporate the hitman business puts him at potentially lethal odds as he is unaffiliated. Following a botched contract, Martin receives an invitation to his 10-year high school reunion in his hometown of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Initially reluctant to attend, he is persuaded into it by both his therapist, Dr. Oatman, and his secretary, Marcella. She books him a contract in Michigan that coincides with the reunion, ostensibly to make amends with the client whose contract was botched.Minnie Driver in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)Upon arriving in Grosse Pointe, Martin reconnects with his childhood friend Paul and his high school sweetheart Debi Newberry, now a radio disc jockey, whom Martin had abandoned on prom night to enlist in the army. He also visits his mentally ill mother in a retirement home, and the grave of his father (who is implied to had been a neglectful alcoholic). Meanwhile, Martin is being stalked by Felix LaPoubelle, another hitman who attempts to kill Martin in the convenience store built over his childhood home. He is also followed by two National Security Agency (NSA) agents who were tipped off to Martin’s contract by Grocer. Despite these dangers, Martin remains distracted by his desire to win over Debi and fails to open the dossier on his target. At the reunion, Martin and Debi mingle with their former classmates, and begin to fall in love all over again. Later, while exploring the halls alone, Martin is ambushed by LaPoubelle, whom he kills in self defense. Debi stumbles upon the scene and flees the reunion in horror. Paul arrives moments later, and helps Martin dispose of LaPoubelle’s body in the school furnace.John Cusack and Jeremy Piven in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)Debi later confronts Martin in his hotel room; he reveals that when he joined the army, his psyche profile revealed a “moral flexibility” that made him suitable to work as an assassin for the Central Intelligence Agency, after which he decided to go freelance. His rationalizations for his work terrify Debi even further; she rejects his attempts at reconciliation and walks out. Martin fires Oatman over the phone, lays off Marcella (but directs her to a brick of cash hidden in the office, set aside for her severance pay), and finally opens the dossier detailing the contract that brought him to Grosse Pointe. He is amazed to find that the target is Debi’s father, Bart, who is scheduled to testify against Martin’s client.John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)Grocer decides to kill Bart himself to impress Martin’s client. Martin abandons the contract and rescues Bart, driving him to the Newberry house and holing up inside, narrowly escaping Grocer and his mercenaries. During the siege, Martin finally reveals that he left Debi on prom night to protect her from his homicidal urges, which were due to his abusive upbringing. Martin gradually kills off the mercenaries, and the NSA agents are gunned down by both Grocer and Martin. Martin kills Grocer by smashing a television over his head. Injured and winded, Martin proposes marriage to Debi, who (shell-shocked from the day’s events) does not respond. In the end, Debi and Martin leave Grosse Pointe together.Dan Aykroyd and John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)Although not nearly as popular as it deserves to be, Grosse Point Blank has become an increasingly respected cult flick in the years following its theatrical release and it’s not hard to see why. The movie is probably the only film on earth that is able to blend comedy, graphic violence, and romance together perfectly, which is what makes it such a classic.

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REVIEW: CHASING LIBERTY

CAST

Mandy Moore (Saved)
Matthew Goode (Allied)
Stark Sands (Minority Report TV)
Jeremy Piven (Smokin’ Aces)
Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever)
Mark Harmon (NCIS)
Caroline Goodall (The Princess Diaries)
Beatrice Rosen (The Smurfs 2)
Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter)

Matthew Goode and Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty (2004)Anna Foster (Mandy Moore) is the daughter of President of the United States James Foster (Mark Harmon). After Secret Service agents ruin a first date, Anna demands less supervision. For his upcoming trip to Prague, the president agrees to assign only two agents to watch over Anna, whose Secret Service codename is Liberty. In Prague, Anna and her friend Gabrielle La Clare (Beatrice Rosen) attend a concert, where Anna discovers numerous agents in the crowd. Believing her father has broken his promise, Anna eludes her protectors with Gabrielle’s help. Outside the theater, she asks Ben Calder (Matthew Goode) for a ride on his motorbike. Unknown to Anna, Ben is a Secret Service agent, and he informs agents Alan Weiss (Jeremy Piven) and Cynthia Morales (Annabella Sciorra) where she can be found. When the president learns of her behavior, he instructs Ben to guard Anna without revealing his true identity, to give her the illusion of freedom with a guarantee of safety.Matthew Goode in Chasing Liberty (2004)Believing she is finally free, Anna jumps into the Vltava River naked, mistaking it for the Danube, and she and Ben climb a rooftop to watch an Offenbach opera being shown in a plaza. The next morning, Anna calls her parents. Initially relieved that his daughter is safe, the President’s tone changes when he is shown photos of her undressing. Outraged at her father’s tone, Anna decides she will go to the Love Parade in Berlin. She and Ben board a train, where they meet Scotty McGruff (Martin Hancock), a flighty romantic who gives them a stack of Six Million Dollar Man stickers, instructing them to post them in random places, and one day when they are unhappy, they may come across one and it will make them smile. Ben discovers that they have boarded a Venice-bound train going in the opposite direction from Berlin.Matthew Goode and Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty (2004)In Venice, after checking in with agents Weiss and Morales—who are now growing closer romantically—Ben joins Anna and McGruff and together they explore the city. After McGruff leaves, Anna realizes he has stolen her wallet. When Anna is recognized by tourists, she and Ben flee. With no money, they tell a kind-hearted gondolier, Eugenio (Joseph Long), that they recently married against her parents’ wishes. During the free gondola ride, Ben kisses Anna to hide her from their pursuers. When he learns the “newlyweds” have no place to stay, Eugenio invites them to his house, where they are welcomed by his mother, Maria (Miriam Margolyes). That night, thinking their kiss was heartfelt, Anna offers herself to Ben, but he rejects her advances. The next day, Eugenio drives them to the Austrian border, as Weiss and Morales show up at Maria’s house and learn from Maria that Anna and Ben are married, which is then reported to Anna’s parents. Upset at Ben’s rejection, Anna hitchhikes a ride in a truck, leaving Ben to chase her through the Austrian countryside. Anna comes to a bridge, where she meets the Jumping Germans, a bungee jumping group. Ben arrives just as Anna is being strapped into the harness, and insists on jumping with her.Matthew Goode and Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty (2004)Later that evening at the Jumping Germans’ camp, one of the Germans asks Anna to share his tent for the night. She refuses and flirts with Ben, who rejects her advances again. Upset, she declares that she will share the German’s tent after all; Ben finally admits his feelings for Anna and they spend the night together. At the Love Parade, as Ben explains his actions on the phone to his fellow agents, Anna discovers his identity. Enraged at the apparent betrayal, Anna runs off, only to be harassed by a group of men who recognize her. Ben rescues her, and Anna and her family return to the United States. While preparing for college, Anna reveals to her mother that her heart is “a little bit broken.” At college, with Weiss and Morales (who plan to marry) still protecting her, Anna sees a Six Million Dollar Man sticker which reminds her of her European adventure. During Christmas break Anna’s father tells her that Ben resigned from the Secret Service and is working as a photographer in London. During an exchange program to Oxford University Anna visits Ben at the opera, where they kiss, reconcile, and escape on his motorbike.Matthew Goode and Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty (2004)If you’re looking for something deep or an epic romance, this is not for you. But if you want something good to watch on a night home alone then its a good flick.

REVIEW: RUNAWAY JURY

CAST

John Cusack (2012)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Bruce McGill (Timecop)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Nick Searcy (The Dead Girl)
Leland Orser (Taken)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
Joanna Going (Nixon)
Dylan McDermott (Texas Rangers)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Bill Nunn (Money Train)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Jennifer Beals (The Prophecy II)
Guy Torry (American History X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)

In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at the office and opens fire on his former colleagues, then kills himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood. Two years later, with attorney Wendell Rohr, Jacob’s widow Celeste takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable in the courtroom through electronic surveillance. In the jury pool, Nick Easter tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch tells Cable that the judge has now given them no choice, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick’s congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, but Frank Herrera, a Marine veteran, takes an instant dislike to him.A woman named Marlee makes an offer to Fitch and Rohr: she will deliver the verdict to the first bidder. Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch asks for proof that she can deliver, though, which Nick provides. Fitch orders Nick’s apartment searched, but finds nothing. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch’s jurors bounced. Nick shows the judge surveillance footage of his apartment being searched, and the judge orders the jury sequestered. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one, Rikki Coleman, to attempt suicide. Rohr loses a key witness due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm’s partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich, to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch’s price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict.Fitch’s subordinate Doyle travels to Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a law school drop-out, and that Marlee’s real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby’s sister died in a school shooting. The town sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped the defense win the case. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee’s offer is a set-up, and he calls Fitch, but it is too late. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury in favor of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant against the plaintiff, which undermines his support. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood. After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in Gardner.This was a movie that wasn’t over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through.  Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable.  The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously

REVIEW: THE KINGDOM

CAST

Jamie Foxx (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Gift)
Ashraf Barhom (Paradise Now)
Ali Suliman (Lone Survivor)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Richard Jenkins (The Mod Squad)
Tim McGraw (Tomorrowland)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Frances Fisher (The Host)
Danny Huston (Wonder Woman)

During a softball game at an American oil company housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda terrorists set off a bomb, killing Americans and Saudis. While one team hijacks a car and shoots residents, a suicide bomber wearing a fake police uniform blows himself up, killing everyone near him. Sergeant Haytham of the Saudi State Police kills the carjackers. The FBI Legal Attaché in Saudi Arabia, Special Agent Fran Manner, calls his US colleague, Special Agent Ronald Fleury, to advise him about the attack. Manner is discussing the situation with DSS Special Agent Rex Bura when an ambulance full of explosives is detonated, killing Manner, Bura, and many others.At FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Fleury briefs his rapid deployment team on the attack. Although the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. State Department hinder FBI efforts to investigate the attack, Fleury blackmails the Saudi ambassador into allowing an FBI investigative team into Saudi Arabia. Fleury gathers Special Agent Janet Mayes, a forensic examiner, FBI analyst Adam Leavitt, an intelligence analyst, and Special Agent Grant Sykes, a bomb technician, to go to Saudi Arabia. On arrival they are met by Colonel Faris al-Ghazi, the commander of the Saudi State Police Force providing security at the compound. The investigation is being run by General Al Abdulmalik of the SANG, who does not give Fleury and his team permission to investigate.The FBI team is invited to the palace of Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Khaled for a dinner. While at the palace, Fleury persuades the Prince that Colonel al-Ghazi is a natural detective and should be allowed to lead the investigation. With this change in leadership, the Americans are allowed hands-on access to the crime scene. While searching for evidence, Sergeant Haytham and Sykes discover the second bomb was detonated in an ambulance. Fleury learns the brother of one of the dead terrorists had access to ambulances and police uniforms. Colonel al-Ghazi orders a SWAT team to raid a house, managing to kill a few heavily armed terrorists. Following the raid, the team discovers clues, including photos of the U.S. and other Western embassies in Riyadh. Soon afterward, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Damon Schmidt notifies Fleury and his team that they have been ordered to return to the United States.On their way to King Khalid International Airport, their convoy is attacked and incapacitated. Leavitt is dragged out of the wrecked car and kidnapped while Fleury manages to wound one attacker. Al-Ghazi commandeers a civilian vehicle to chase the fourth SUV and the other car holding Leavitt into the dangerous Al-Suwaidi neighborhood of Riyadh. As they pull up, a gunman launches rocket-propelled grenades at them and a fierce firefight starts. Leavitt is tied up inside a complex.While Sykes and Haytham watch the entrance to the complex, al-Ghazi, Fleury, and Mayes follow a blood trail and kill many gunmen inside. Mayes, separated from the others, finds Leavitt and his attackers, preparing an execution video of Leavitt. She kills the remaining insurgents, and al-Ghazi and the team start to leave. Fleury then realizes there is a trail of blood leading to the back of the apartment, and al-Ghazi sees the grandfather and inspects his hand. When the old man gives him his hand, al-Ghazi sees that the man is missing the same fingers as Abu Hamza al-Masri in the terrorist group’s many videos and confirms his suspicion that the grandfather is the terrorist leader. Abu Hamza’s teenage grandson walks out of the bedroom and shoots al-Ghazi in the neck, then he starts to point his gun at Mayes, prompting Fleury to kill him. Abu Hamza then pulls out an assault rifle and Haytham kills him. As Abu Hamza dies, another grandchild hugs him and Abu Hamza whispers something into his ear to calm the child down. Al-Ghazi dies in Fleury’s arms.At al-Ghazi’s house, Fleury and Haytham meet his family. Fleury tells his son that al-Ghazi was his good friend, mirroring a similar scene earlier in the movie wherein he comforted Special Agent Manner’s son. Fleury and his team return to the United States, where they are commended by FBI Director James Grace for their outstanding work. Leavitt asked Fleury and Mayes what he had whispered to her to calm her down. The scene cuts to Abu Hamza’s daughter asking her own daughter what her grandfather whispered to her as he was dying. The granddaughter tells her mother, “Don’t fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all,” a similar line to what Fleury had whispered to Mayes.The Kingdom is a straightforward action flick with enough critical undertones to not be propaganda. It’s a very exciting thriller to watch, but except for the final scene there’s nothing really thought-provoking here.

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy

REVIEW: TWO FOR THE MONEY

CAST

Al Pacino (Simone)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Rene Russo (Thor)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Jaime King (Sin City)
Ralph Garman (Yoga Hosers)

Brandon Lang (McConaughey) is a former college football star who, after sustaining a career-ending injury, takes a job handicapping football games. His success at choosing winners catches the eye of Walter Abrams (Pacino), the slick head of one of the biggest sports consulting operations in the United States. Walter takes Brandon under his wing, and soon they are making tremendous amounts of money.

Lang’s in-depth knowledge of the game, leagues and players brings in big winnings and bigger clients. Abrams’ cable television show, The Sports Advisors, skyrockets in popularity when he adds Lang’s slick “John Anthony” persona to the desk, infuriating Jerry Sykes (Jeremy Piven), who up to now has been Walter’s in-house expert. Lang’s total image is remade — new car, new wardrobe and a new look with the assistance of Walter’s wife, Toni (Russo), a hair stylist.

Things suddenly go south, however, when Lang begins playing his hunches instead of doing his homework. He loses his touch and is even physically assaulted by the thugs of a gambler (Armand Assante) who lost a great deal of money following Lang’s advice. Lang and Abrams’ once-solid relationship sours. Lang’s new high-rolling lifestyle depends entirely on his ability to predict the outcomes of the games. Millions are at stake by the time he places his last bet, and Abrams grows increasingly unstable. (Abrams is a recovering gambling addict and alcoholic, among other things. Toni tells Lang early on that Walter’s life is “held together by meetings; if there’s an ‘anonymous’ at the end of it, he goes. He has to.”). He secretly begins gambling all of his own money on Lang’s picks and becomes suspicious that Lang is having an affair with his wife.

The film concludes with Lang’s predictions coming true for the last game, both of which he allegedly determines by flipping coins in a bathroom, as he leaves New York and takes a job as coach of a junior league football team.

Not a great movie by any means, but some truly fine acting from the trio of stars. The supporting cast also gives solid roles despite the skimpy script. If gambling of any sort, and sports gambling in particular, is of interest to you, then this is a movie to recommend. Otherwise see it for the actors, not the story.

REVIEW: SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL FOR

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Mickey Rourke (Immortals)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Eva Green (Dark Shadows)
Powers Booth (Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Christopher Lloyd (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Jaime King (Bulletproof Monk)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Marton Csokas (Xena)
Lady Gaga (Machete Kills Again)
Alexa Penavega (Spy Kids)

Just Another Saturday Night

Marv (Mickey Rourke) regains consciousness on a highway overlooking the Projects, surrounded by several dead young men and a crashed police car, and with no memory of how he got there. He retraces his steps, recalling that since it’s Saturday, he watched Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) dance at Kadie’s Saloon. Stepping outside, he encounters four rich frat boys burning a homeless man alive. When Marv intervenes, the leader of the frat boys shoots him in the arm, calling him “Bernini Boy,” which Marv mishears as “Bernie.” They flee; Marv follows, stealing a Police car on the way, which he crashes into their car, leading to his blackout and memory loss. He follows the two surviving frat boys into The Projects, the neighborhood where he grew up. With the assistance of the deadly residents lurking in the shadows, he dispatches the frat boys. He questions the leader about being called “Bernini Boy” and learns that it is the brand of coat he is wearing. After slitting the boy’s throat, he considers his coat and realizes he can’t remember how he acquired it.

The Long Bad Night (Part I)

Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a cocky young gambler, arrives in Sin City and heads to Kadie’s place, where he immediately hits the jackpot on multiple slot machines. Taking a young waitress, Marcie (Julia Garner), with him as a good luck charm, he buys into the backroom poker game led by the all-powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Johnny repeatedly wins in the high-stakes game, and cleans the senator out. One other player, the corrupt police lieutenant Liebowitz (Jude Ciccolella), warns him to flee the city, but instead Johnny takes Marcie out for a night on the town. He walks her home when Roark’s goons suddenly attack him. He fights them off and tells Marcie to meet him at a hotel before he is escorted into the Senator’s waiting limousine. In payment for the humiliation he suffered at the card game, Roark takes back his money and uses a pair of pliers to break the fingers of Johnny’s playing hand. They toss him from the car and the Senator shoots Johnny in the leg. Roark then reveals that he recognized Johnny as his illegitimate son. However, he remarks that he only considered his dead son Roark Jr. his flesh and blood. He leaves Johnny alive, preferring to let him suffer, and Johnny swears revenge.

A Dame to Kill For

Years before “The Big Fat Kill”, Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) attempts to put his violent past behind him, working as a private detective and leading a life of complete sobriety, struggling daily to refuse his inner demons. After saving the life of Sally (Juno Temple), young hooker, who is nearly murdered by her businessman lover (Ray Liotta), he receives an unexpected phone call from his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green), who left Dwight four years prior for a wealthy tycoon, Damien Lord (Marton Csokas). She begs him to meet her at Kadie’s saloon, and despite his embittered feelings, he agrees. When Ava arrives, she begs forgiveness for leaving him and implies she is afraid for her life before her massive chauffeur, Manute (Dennis Haysbert), arrives to escort her home. Unable to get her out of his mind, Dwight sneaks into Damien Lord’s estate, where he observes Ava swimming, but is caught and beaten. Dwight is returned home, where a nude Ava waits for him. He tries to throw her out, but can’t resist her and they make love. She tells him that Damien and Manute torture her physically and mentally, and she knows Damien will kill her soon. Manute arrives and viciously beats a naked Dwight, sending him out the window with a single punch.

Determined to rescue Ava, Dwight recruits Marv to help him, and they mount an assault on Lord’s compound. Marv attacks Manute, putting him in traction and tearing out his eye. Dwight confronts Damien Lord, who denies Ava’s accusations, and an enraged Dwight beats him to death. As he reacts in horror, Ava appears and shoots Dwight several times, taunting him and thanking him for helping her murder her husband and take over his fortune. She shoots him in the face and forces him to fall out of a window, where Marv rescues him and takes him to Old Town. Dwight’s old flame, Gail (Rosario Dawson), recognizes him and saves his life. With the help of Gail and the deadly assassin Miho (Jamie Chung), Dwight undergoes reconstructive surgery on his face and plots his revenge.

Meanwhile, two detectives, Mort (Christopher Meloni) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), investigate Damien’s death. Ava claims Dwight was an obsessive ex-lover, and he killed her husband in a jealous rage. Bob is skeptical but Ava seduces Mort, who believes her every word. They begin an affair and Ava pressures him to find and kill Dwight. When Mort, obsessed with Ava, attempts to track Dwight down in Old Town (an action that would break the truce between the police and the prostitutes), Bob attempts to stop him. An enraged Mort shoots Bob in the face, then commits suicide afterward. Out of options, Ava reluctantly partners with the mob boss Wallenquist (Stacy Keach).

Dwight (with his reconstructed new face), accompanied by Gail and Miho, poses as Wallenquist’s man from Texas. Inside Ava’s estate, however, Manute sees past the new face and captures Dwight. Gail and Miho strike from Dwight’s car, and Dwight shoots Manute with a hidden .45 he had up his left sleeve. Six bullets fail to kill him, and Manute aims shakily at Dwight as Ava unexpectedly grabs one of Manute’s guns, shooting Manute several times. She attempts to convince Dwight to pair with her, and that the pain he suffered revealed his true intentions, but Dwight shoots her mid-kiss, and she dies in his arms.

 The Long Bad Night (Part II)

Johnny visits an unlicensed doctor, Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd), who shoots up heroin before trading his services for Johnny’s last $40 and his shoes. Realizing he left Marcie unprotected, Johnny rushes to his hotel but finds the Senator waiting for him, along with Marcie’s dismembered head and hands. Again, the senator lets him go. Intent on taking down Roark, Johnny scrounges a dollar from a sympathetic waitress (Lady Gaga) which he uses to regain enough money playing slots to buy his way into Roark’s game the following night. Playing a card shark’s con, Johnny folds his first few hands, allowing Roark to taunt him about his dead mother. He once again cons Roark into going all in, then reveals his winning hand. Johnny taunts his father, reminding him that tonight’s story of how the same man beat him twice will follow him for the rest of his life. His vengeance completed, Johnny smiles resignedly, a single tear running down his face as Roark shoots him in the head, commanding his men to get rid of the body.

Nancy’s Last Dance

Four years after “That Yellow Bastard”,” Nancy Callahan is in a deep depression over John Hartigan’s death. She is obsessed with getting revenge on Senator Roark for having driven Hartigan to kill himself. As she wallows in despair, the ghost of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) watches over her, unable to reach her but still attempting to help. On the same night that Johnny joins the backroom poker game, Nancy attempts to shoot Roark from the stage of Kadie’s, but she can’t bring herself to pull the trigger.
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Nancy hallucinates a visit from Roark, and shortly thereafter cuts her hair and smashes a mirror…using its shards to cut her face. She decides to get Marv to help her kill Roark by showing him the scars and making him believe that Roark was responsible. As they step out of the club, they meet a motorcycle gang there to shoot up the place. Marv kills two but leaves their leader for Nancy to finish off. The pair mount an assault on Roark’s compound: Marv slaughters Roark’s bodyguards while Nancy picks off the guards with a crossbow. Marv is wounded, but Nancy continues on alone to confront Roark. Roark shoots her first in the side then the leg and is about to finish her off. Suddenly, Hartigan’s ghost appears in the mirror –startling Roark long enough for Nancy to recover and kill him.
sin-city-2-dame-to-fill-for-jessica-alba-bruce-willisThis is as visually stunning and as jaw dropping as the first film. I was thoroughly engrossed for 90 odd minutes, with the comic books faithfully reproduced. Something over and above many comic book adaptations is happening here, with plots stuck to with few liberties taken