Sucker Punch marks the first movie where Zack Snyder, the director of films such as 300 and WATCHMEN, doesn’t rely on someone else’s material to film. Sucker Punch is an original work co-written by Snyder, and as a fan of his work I was eager to see what he could do on his own, without using someone else’s work as a guide to make his film. Sucker Punch, as a story is simple, though, it does ask a lot of its viewers.
The film begins with BabyDoll (Emily Browning), who, through a turn of tragic events, finds herself in an insane asylum for young women where she’s due to be lobotomized. Going in-depth anymore would give away a bit of this movie. I guess the closest thing I could compare the idea of Sucker Punch to is Pan’s Labyrinth. Where just like in this movie, to escape the world the protagonist finds herself in, she creates an imaginary world full of spectacle. This fantasy world BabyDoll creates for herself isn’t really any better than the real world, aside from the fact that the clothes are better (and skimpier) and there’s more color involved. In this world BabyDoll and her friends, Rocket (Jena Malone) Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket’s sister (at least in the fantasy, we never really know if they’re related in the Real world), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) are all dancers who are used to make money for Blue (Oscar Issac), who runs the asylum in BabyDoll’s fantasy world. He brings patrons there who are rich and powerful and showcases the girls as entertainment.
BabyDoll gets placed in the troupe, and whenever she dances she then imagines herself in yet another fantasy world where she is a katana wielding bad-ass chick, along with her friends. In these fantasies her and her friends are sent on various missions. The missions themselves aren’t as much the point as the teamwork they have to have in order to succeed is. The premise may sound confusing, but Snyder does it in a way where its easy to see the transition from one fantasy to the other and not get the least bit confused.
There is basically three levels to this movie the viewer has to be aware of. The first level is the reality, the real world. The film spends about ten minutes in the real world as a whole so this isn’t an issue. Most of the film takes place in the second level, which is the fantasy world, and the third level is what I like to call the “Uber” fantasy world, where BabyDoll retreats to whenever she dances. Sucker Punch is one of those movies where you’ll either like it or want the two hours of your life you spent seeing it back. The story isn’t great, but it’s not as horrible as some say it is. The only real problem is the span of time that this fantasy world of BabyDoll’s takes up compared to what leads to that fantasy in the fist place. If you can get passed that, then the rest shouldn’t be an issue.
I think most people who see this movie will say that this film is nothing more than a vehicle for Mr. Snyder to show off his talents when it comes to creating action pieces, which he is very good at. And they would be right to say that. Snyder has the ability to capture and create action in such a stylistic manner that you can get easily lost in it while at the same time being aware of what’s going on around you. It’s a kind of kinetic, controlled chaos that’s absolutely beautiful to look at, and unlike a lot of films today, the camera isn’t constantly shaking so you have no idea what’s coming from where and who’s doing what, something other directors I wish would take note of.
Sucker Punch, isn’t great, but it’s not horrible as many are trying to make it out to be. Those going to see it expecting to receive some message on the ill’s of society (though there is a message to be found about the treatment of the mentally ill, small as it is) or be blown through the back of the theater by action sequences, the likes of which no one has seen before, will be sorely disappointed. It’s a film that both shouts girl power, showing girls can kick ass just as well as the boys, while also saying that girls can be fragile and easily broken…if they let it happen. Yes, the outfits the girls wear for most of the movie are skimpy, and it’s definitely a film made by a guy for guys, but it’s the girls, or young women as it is, that make the movie shine. Ultimately, the film is at it’s strongest when the girls are together, working towards a single goal, whether in the fantasy, or Uber fantasy world. Perhaps the best offering the film has is that in the end we find out the bond formed by those girls extended beyond BabyDoll’s fantasy, and in that the movie gives an underlying sisterhood that is rare to see in today’s films.