Sucker Punch

How do you cope with sadness or traumatic experiences? Everyone has their preferred styles of overcoming grief and misery. As Sucker Punch shows, some people have multiple levels of coping that enable them to survive tough times.


Babydoll (Emily Browning) is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather after he accuses her of murdering her younger sister. He proceeds to bribe an orderly, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), to forge the signature of lead psychiatrist, Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), and schedule Babydoll for a lobotomy in five days. Immediately, Babydoll devises a plan of escape and enacts the events leading up to it in her dream world of the institution as a brothel and a second dream world where she and her friends (fellow patients) acquire the means to escape.

The film was written and directed by Zack Snyder, which immediately gives you an idea of how it will look and play out (if not, hint: he directed 300 and Watchmen). The sharp dark colors are always visually enticing and he liberally utilizes the “epic” factor for even the simplest tasks. In the beginning there are a half-dozen buttons pushed or keys turned in the most ridiculous attempts at making something seem definite and terminal. This can be expected from Snyder and, honestly, ends up being the only remotely interesting thing about the film, as sad as that sounds.

The segue from mental institution to gangster-run brothel is so sudden it takes some time to realize exactly what happened. Even when Rocket (Jena Malone) explains the purpose behind the club it still comes across nonsensical and is not explained further until the very end. The next step along Babydoll’s journey of coping is during her dance routines- you never get to see Browning’s mystical dance so don’t hold your breath- that allow her to escape to a wasteland of war and battle, which she uses to explain the resources she needs to escape.

These battlefield breaks are extremely drawn out and unnecessarily long. The effects used are not even worth paying attention, which is made evident by the first sequence involving weird statues fighting Browning as you can almost see the wires pulling her minute frame around the set. To be fair, the action scenes steadily improve, but none really live up to the level Snyder set in 300 or Watchmen. His trademark slow motion action moments are plentiful, but oddly placed. The usually striking visual is reserved in Punch for reloading a gun or even firing the gun, but not any grand takedowns. This can be explained partially by the people involved in the fighting. With the likes of Browning, Malone, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens, the idea of hand-to-hand combat is almost laughable, so Snyder finds ways to make them as badass as he can, which slightly works for most. Unfortunately, Hudgens- when it’s obviously her, not a stunt double- is unbelievably awkward as an action star. Her fight scenes look very out-of-place and forced until it switches to the double. The rest of the girls hold their own enough to make the scenes watchable.

The premise of Sucker Punch is intriguing enough to attract attention and it is no wonder how it got the movie deal. Yet, the execution of the layered storyline and the dream worlds was poorly planned and feebly spliced together. There is little transition period between scenes, especially between dreams and realities. Even stars like Gugino are out-of-place (her accent is unnecessary plain and simple). Punch just lacks any appeal.

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