This movie would have been great… if not for all the ridiculously harmful stereotypes everywhere.
Content Warning: rape, misogyny, rape culture.
Not to say it’s that way for all the characters. There are empowered badasses:
Rosario returns as the leader of the girls in Old Town. Her story is a prequel, which still works because Rosario looks like she hasn’t aged 10 minutes. Josh Brolin fills in for Clive Owen as the face-changing Dwight. He does it well, but the character doesn’t pack the same punch for me in this tale compared to the Dwight that gave Benicio Del Toro a swirly for beating up on Brittany Murphy.
My main issue with the second installment centers around this story in particular. Dwight enlists the help of Gail & Miho and Marv in order to save Eva Green’s character, Ava Lord. Lord, an ex-lover of Dwight’s, calls on him for help. She says that her husband allows his servant/butler/valet Manute (Dennis Haysbert, the All-State man, who is no Lawrence Fishburne) to rape her and abuse her, that her husband keeps won’t let her leave. Dwight, who earlier saved a prostitute from a politician, has a chivalrous streak and no reason not to believe her. So he goes in to save her, first with Marv and no guns. Dwight tells Marv the tale and gets him drunk enough to be dangerous. Marv is always looking for a reason, anyway. Dwight gets turned into Swiss cheese and calls on Gail for help. They concoct a daring scheme- which is the highlight of the flick. Finally, Dwight confronts Mr. Lord, who says, “What has my wife told you? She’s pathological. I’ve done nothing and still she spreads lies about me.”
And it’s true.
…So the plotline of the MAIN STORY this film (and the comic) comes to be because of a woman lying about rape…
Narratives such as these have real world implications. This is a large budget movie with big name stars and the MAIN plot is a woman lying about rape. Out here in the real world, women are treated as suspects instead of victims and interrogated when facing rapists and abusers. Take for example the instance of a woman who accused a pro-athlete of rape, she immediately reported it to casino security and then filed a civil suit -she sued for false imprisonment and sexual assault and battery (among other charges)- when the media reported the charges, she was immediately dubbed a “gold digger” for her appearance, then tabloids dug in to her mental state and found anxiety, insomnia and depression. They dubbed her “nutty” -and this was post-trauma. She had mental health consequences of someone who suffered abuse and was embroiled in a court battle and yet her mental health was held as evidence that she was unstable and unreasonable. It was assumed that the victim was claiming “rape” as a way to get large sums of money. Which in the plot of SC:ADTKF was true about Ava Lord. Do you see why this portrayal is damaging?
And before all the MRA’s and naive assbags show up in my yard. Yes. I know that there are also instances of women lying about rape. Although that’s only been found to be the case in .6 percent of rape allegations. So let’s focus on the other 99.4% of the time, shall we. That vast percent where women are forced to prove their virtue, their perceived “potential” to be “real victims”, where they have to prove that they were not “asking for it” because of clothing or BAC or sexual history. Where over 50% of rapes still go unreported (largely because the victim thinks they will not be believed or that their own morality will be on trial or that the accused is too well liked and even if they believe you they won’t care. 97% of accused rapists don’t go to jail.
So please, by all fucking means: let us have a star studded case propagating this damaging bullshit. /sarcasm
And I know “this is for adults”, which is a comment I received to my criticism of this plotline. The assbags commenting that the aforementioned woman was a “gold digger,” the reporters that treated her like shit, the security guard who told her she should “be lucky to sleep with someone like that”? Adults. Judges who say that victims are better off not reporting rape if there is not enough evidence? Adults. People who mocked a drugged and passed out 16-year old rape victim? Some of them were adults. A Florida deputy who harassed a 17 year old victim, telling her that “he owned her”? Also an adult.
Propagating this trope to any age group is fucking dangerous and harms women who report rape.
It’s also during this story that we have 2 lazy and racist tropes: the silent Asian badass and the powerful black servant. Overused and pointless, Miho was written as silent -her vocal chords were cut in an attempt on her life, but that doesn’t make it okay. The expressionless/voiceless Asian trope rears it’s head an awful lot across all genres: notably, with Agent May on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”, to Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels, Ecks vs Sever and “Ally McBeal”, to Gwen and Avril’s Harajuku back-up dancers. And Manute’s archetype appeared most recently in “Penny Dreadful” with the character Sembene. He’s large and tough and reliable. He’s also a servant with no plotline of his own. Dwight refers to Manute as “not even human” …that’s not a good look.
Gail’s my favorite. She has agency, she fights for herself, her “girls” and her man.
But I’m not opposed to male heroes, or anti-heroes. The dangerous Marv always drinking and looking for a fight. Always ready to ride for his friends and help out a beautiful dame. It’s cliche, but it’s well done in this case. But his last appearance in the flick seemed unnecessary. Nancy’s story made no sense. She has a good motive, she wants to avenge Hartigan, who she is haunted by. She couldn’t shoot the Senator at Kadie’s and suddenly, seemingly without reason. she chops off her hair, cuts her face, gets Marv involved and suddenly she can pull the trigger. What changed? No idea. Needless to say, she had other chances (watching the Senator through the wall as he lost at poker to Joseph Gordon-Levitt), wouldn’t the ending have been better if she shot the Senator before he offed JG-L? or if she had done it in the middle of Kadie’s and then they had to fight off a bunch of goons? Whatever.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s plot was unnecessary as a whole. He had style and panache and his plot involved a trip to see the Doc, Christopher Lloyd, but there wasn’t enough reason for me to get emotionally invested. What was the point? to show that the Senator was a bad guy? We knew that. And JG-L is no Josh Hartnett.
Cinematically it’s bad ass. It’s stylish and gritty and Jessica Alba’s dancing is still fantastic. It needed more Rosario Dawson.
2.5 out of 5