95. Sucker Punch (2011)

Feeling like a bit of a sucker for being excited

5/10
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens and Abbie Cornish

When Babydoll (Browning) is wrongfully accused of her sister’s murder and is forced into a hospital for the mentally insane, she finds escapism through imaginative worlds that help her fight for freedom and endure the abusive treatment she receives in reality. It’s not the most original story, but it’s not a bad slate upon which we can build strong character arcs and clever metaphorical parallelisms. Unfortunately, Zack Snyder over-indulges his nerdy fantasies and sets Babydoll’s escapism in a brothel … and the action sequences that follow in her hopes of escaping are just about as cliche as they come.

First of all, why a brothel? If there were any links between the real setting Babydoll wishes to escape, and the prison of the brothel in her mind, they are incredibly tenuous and should have been made clearer in the film. The same could be said for the incredibly detailed and wonderfully directed action sequences that involve dragons, zombies, robots and other such evil obstacles that Babydoll has to hack her way through with a samurai sword. There’s no doubt that Snyder has a signature mark in his action direction, and that Sucker Punch plays out like an awesome video game with hot gun-toting girls who can seriously kick ass, BUT with the lack of explanation that ties all the imaginary events together, it’s hard to get a grip on what the story is really about, and why we should give a damn.

For a girl who wants freedom, it's weird that she should imagine herself in a brothel..?

This may have something to do with the character of Babydoll. As Babydoll dances and hypnotically wows her audience from seeing her plans to escape – which apparently only require a map, a lighter, a knife and a key – she bands together with a group of other showgirls and doesn’t really learn anything along the way, change along the way or show any real emotions other than limp shock at everything she sees. The other characters also fail to be distinctive in any way, and while Sweetpea (Cornish) and Rocket (Malone) have the tie of sisterhood and a small backstory about running away from home, this isn’t enough for the story to explain why they wish to escape the brothel with Babydoll and go back home… when they ran away from home in the first place?

But I digress… WHY A BROTHEL? As no other explanation jumps out at me at the present time I’m going to have to go ahead and assume that it simply gives the costume department an excuse to prep these girls up nice and slutty so that male audiences rush to the cinemas. Guns, zombies, action and innocent-looking showgirls? This couldn’t possibly be a commercial ploy, could it?

For girls who saw the trailer and posters of this film, and thought “FUCK YES” because it looked like Snyder was finally giving us the female version of 300 that would empower us as ass-kicking chicks capable of flattening the noses of our male bad-guys, you’d have to be a sucker to fall for that message in the actual film.

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