Review: The Spirit

"That there is the spirit." "God bless him." The exchange is rife with symbolism, both figuratively and literally. It can be read as The Spirit, Denny Colt, being a religious symbol, or it can be read as Colt being the actual spirit of Central City. And that's what makes that statement so sweeping, because it fully encompasses his character in relation to the city he protects, as well as within the context of the movie The Spirit. Spoilers are ahead, so you've been warned. Going into the film I was half expecting to see a semi-sequel to Sin City, in that I fully expected Frank Miller to make this film just as gory with a just as semi-coherent story. I'm delighted to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the end result, as this may be Miller's finest work as a director/film writer. Granted, his resume isn't quite that extensive as of yet, but this film may be to his burgeoning film career what The Dark Knight Returns was to his comic writing career, that sort of watershed moment we all hope for as professionals in any fields. The best part about this movie is that it took itself seriously without taking itself too seriously. Allow me to explain. The film briefly touches on the backstory of The Spirit, explaining how he came to be as a result of a shooting while on patrol and his subsequent deal with Lorelai, otherwise known as Death. The origin is very Spawnlike, as throughout the film Lorelai is constantly trying to finish claiming his soul as her own, as Colt has this effect on women in that they are instantly seduced by his charm. This is never really explained, but every woman he encounters is rapidly seduced and falls in love with him. He began his life of seduction with Sand Seref (the incredibly hot and perfectly bodied Eva Mendes) who was his first girlfriend in youth. When her dad (a cop) was killed in a misunderstanding, Seref vowed to leave Central City and never return (turning to a life of crime), while Colt became the Spirit and fought crime. The dichotomous paths they chose to take were completely opposite, however intersected at the end of the film. With some of the origin out of the way, we follow the Spirit as he leaves his cat-filled apartment (the cats most likely being there to ward off Death) as he comes upon a deal gone wrong between Sand Seref and the Octopus, played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson. It wasn't quite a deal between the two of them, however they were both there at the same time, each for different reasons. Serif was there for the Golden Fleece (for the human like of the bling), while Octopus was there for the Blood of Herocles (for the godlike desire of immortality). The deal of course goes awry, with Spirit tracking the both of them down to discover what really happened and what they're really after. He finally figures out that it is Octopus that is behind it all, but only after learning that his ability was created by Octopus and that the two of them are the same. The power is never fully explained, but it is implied that the two of them have extreme healing capabilities. This is a point of contention for Octopus, as he wants more in the ability to be immortal (from the Blood of Herocles). The end result is a ferocious gunfight that finishes with a rocket launcher and grenade to the face of Octopus, ending his bid for immortality. In his quest to discover the truth, Spirit encounters numerous women that he has dealt with in the past, as well as one that he is dealing with in the present in Dr. Ellen Dolan. Dolan loved Colt before he was killed, and is unaware that he is now the Spirit. But she continues to mend him (despite his healing abilities) because of some sense of duty. Dolan is also the daughter of the police commissioner that Colt came to after being revived, offering his services to him as the Spirit, a man who would not have to obey the law but could still fight crime. And I'd be remiss not to mention the always lovely Scarlett Johansson in her role as Silken Floss, the righthand woman to Octopus. Her character is actually the most serious in the entire film, but the way that she presents hereself ends being the most comedic. The interplay between Spirit and just about every female character adds a lightness to the film, but the writing overall was stylish and witty. It was a sort of crime noir with a little bit of comedy thrown in for good measure, which worked really well. At the beginning of the film you're not quite sure which time period to peg the film, as the environment makes you think maybe the 1920s, but then you see them whip out the slider cell phones that do video and you know its more modern day. But this works. And the shots aren't quite dripping with the same unique color variations that Sin City had, as it seems that more of it was actually filmed (although I'm sure there was still a ton of green screen work). The Spirit is really well defined by Colt's character. Trapped between the world of the living and death, Colt is forever roaming the streets of Central City trying to save those most in need of help. But despite the seemingly deep symbolism, the movie was lighthearted enough in its delivery that it was never too deep. Miller made it fun and action-packed at the same time. Definitely one of, if not the, Miller's best films, The Spirit is a great film that packs a colorful and witty punch. Check it out, and be pleased. Overall score: 85 out of 100