It may be nine years since Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s first Sin City, but they don’t miss a beat visually with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Actually, on much of the surface it seems as if it’s a continuation of the first, as if A Dame to Kill For was shot at the same time but left unreleased until now. But it’s through the somewhat lackluster story that it becomes clear the two men just missed the mark the second time around. Fans of the first are sure to enjoy the second entry, but it can’t reach the heights of the first go around.

A Dame to Kill For acts as both a prequel and a sequel, as the interweaving stories take place at different points in time, although some characters straddle both. Mickey Rourke’s Marv definitely leads the show, appearing in three out of the four distinct tales, coming to almost represent the silent keeper of the city. Again, it’s a visually stunning trek through the slums and back alleys, but instead of getting a rush from it, it often feels plodding and uninspired. Ironically, this one does fall to much more what one would expect out of stories like these — sex. The title story “A Dame to Kill For” falls heavily into this trap as seductress Ava Lord (Eva Green) sucks every man within her orbit into her evil ways. They often include her, but not her clothes. But it’s only a distraction from the writing which is often choppy and, sadly, dull.

“The Long Bad Night” starts off well enough with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Johnny, an overconfident gambler who finds himself up against Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), this world’s ultra villain. But Miller, who wrote this and “Nancy’s Last Stand” for the film, can’t seem to find a way to get out of what he begins. Chris Meloni’s adulterous detective in “A Dame to Kill For” just goes nowhere which is, unfortunately, one of the film’s major issues. It’s all enjoyable, but it rarely packs that punch that the first one did.

It certainly brings the hits during the fight sequences of which, don’t worry, there are many. Marv is still taking no prisoners and Josh Brolin who takes Clive Owen’s role as Dwight McCarthy certainly looks right at home. More than that, it feels as if he belongs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a similar, if somewhat lighter, appeal. But Eva Green only looks the part, rarely being it. It doesn’t help that her British accent is constantly slipping, nor that she’s almost always in some form of undress, but she never seems to own the part, as good as she can be. Still, there’s always Marv, and Mickey Rourke is all too comfortable in the role.

All of this adds up to something that’s almost there, but just doesn’t quite have it the second time around. It’s not totally down and out, there’s still something good within it, there’s just also some disappointment.

Rating: 3 out of 5