Sucker Punch (2011)
April 6, 2011 3 Comments
After an assassination attempt on her abusive step-father goes ambiguously wrong, Emily Browning’s pouty schoolgirl is carted off to Lennox House for the Mentally Insane for a swift lobotomy. With his inheretence resting on the death of his late wife’s two children, he balks at the absence of a qualified physician but nevertheless agrees to wait five days for his apparent fortune. Instructed by Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) to dance for the good of her show, our hero is randomly transported to an oriental monestary where she is given a mission, a list of items and a katana, and required to slow-motion back-flip in order to take out a series of hulking computer graphics. Knowing that she must dance for the five objects on the list, the newly monikered Baby Doll recruits four friendly inmates (Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Venessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung) and imagines that she is stabbing dragons, demon Nazis and glass robots for apparently no reason whatsoever.
I forgive you for being enticed by the stylish and action-packed trailer, I was right there with you. It made the film look sleek, layered and, above all, coherent. A squad of asylum inmates escape into an alternate reality, Alice in Wonderland style, and must fight an array of fantastic monsters for a series of items that will lead to their freedom in the real world, sound about right? Turns out, however, that these items were little more than a map from the next room, a lighter from a visiting suit’s pocket, a kitchen knife from their workplace, a key from around their orderly’s neck and a not-so-mysterious “sacrifice”. Not a steampunked zombie Nazi in sight.
These dances then are simply a distraction, allowing for one of the other girls to pocket a trinket. Rather than see Baby Doll thrive about in a dreary dance studio, however, Snyder uses his creative licence to have Baby Doll thrive about in a series of ever so slightly more stimulating environments – seriously, what might have looked spectacular on YouTube looks ropey as Hell on the big screen. With the other girls busy watching or committing petty theft, it appears that the friendships built up on the battlefield are mere two dimensional figments of Baby Doll’s imagination. With Sweet Pea standing in the same room as the building schematics when the first dance/fight/Zack Snyder’s wet dream begins, the audience is forced to sit through an over edited and boringly repetitive flash of lights when all that is really happening is that a piece of paper is being removed from the wall. Riveting.
Aside from the despondency induced by barely legible action and gratuitous slow-motion, there appears to be little on offer except the bonkers sexual politics of an absolute madman. Rated 12A, it is genuinely shocking that Snyder’s explosion in the pixel factory was allowed to contain scenes of rape, grievous cranial harm and point-blank murder. I say contains – it’s true that such acts of violence occur offscreen – but the intent to harm is about as subtle as Brian Blessed.
Sucker Punch, then, is a snoringly dull succession of slow-motion gyrations that boasts all the maturity of a PVC whoopee-cushion. Handling it’s more adult content with exactly zero respect, the film gives as little thought to its dubious subtext as it does to its characters’ real names. Avoid.