If I’m honest I was probably genetically programmed to love this film. Dark, noir setting, beautiful visual style, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba in very few clothes, brutal and stylised violence? Plus who can forget that it was directed by both Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, as well as Frank Miller (creator of the original comic)? I’d honestly have been more surprised if I’d turned out not liking it and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it.
As someone who hasn’t read the graphic novels in any great depth I have to admit that it could be slightly recondite in places, but it was still great fun. It’s structurally fairly similar to Pulp Fiction in that it’s made up of several stories which might cross paths in small ways but are otherwise independent, and timelines are not something that has to be adhered to as characters who died can turn up later on. Tarantino’s influence is probably most obvious there.
Ratings boards get a lot less squeamish about violence and content when it isn’t completely realistic and that’s obviously what happened when this was let through as an 18 in its uncut form, because some of it is absolutely brutal. In no particular order I came out of the cinema having seen (skip to the end of the paragraph if spoilers aren’t your thing) a man being eaten alive by his own dog having had all his limbs cut off, hatchets to crotches, swastika-shaped shuriken attacks, genitals shot off, genitals pulled off by hand, guns backfiring through foreheads, and men being turned into “human Pez dispensers”. Not what you could call a date movie, but since most of the blood is either white or brilliant yellow that apparently makes it OK.
It’s the best thing that Robert Rodriguez, Bruce Willis, and Mickey Rourke have done in a long time, but even if that’s not particularly high praise it’s a good movie by Tarantino’s standards too. I had great fun watching it and it will be a worthy purchase on DVD as well. Watch it, take in the style, and just enjoy some good old bloody rampaging – the best since Kill Bill.
Consider my Star Wars demon exorcised.