It’s hard to believe Zach Snyder has only been around in Hollywood a little while. His first foray into feature-length filmmaking was the Dawn of the Dead remake. From there, Snyder has done some great things in film. He brought Watchmen to theaters, he gave us the Spartan army, and his next film will be bringing us back to Superman. But with Sucker Punch, Snyder gets a chance to do something original.
Sucker Punch follows the journey of Baby Doll, played by Emily Browning, as she attempts to break out of the psychiatric hospital she’s in before she is lobotomized. After being sent there while trying to save her sister from their abusive step-father, Baby Doll deals with the accidental death of her sister and confines of the hospital. While there, she meets fellow patients Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jaime Chung), and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). Together, she leads them on a quest for freedom.
Baby Doll escapes the tortures of the asylum by entering a world where the hospital is a brothel and she is a burlesque dancer along with all her friends. When Baby Doll dances, she becomes entrancing, mesmerizing anyone who watches her. This dance of seduction takes her to another world where WWI is still very much alive. In this world, Baby Doll and the girls are actually warriors, playing out their missions with over-the-top action and intentional badassery. Each mission brings them the task of retrieving an item that would help the girls escape. But Blue, the warden/manager of the brothel will stop at nothing to contain them.
If any of this doesn’t make sense, rest assured that it is. Borrowing Inception‘s Dream-within-a-dream concept, we see Baby Doll disappear into her head as she tries to escape her lobotomy (submission to the will of Blue and her step-father). We see the women paraded around as nothing more than flesh, with men mistreating and abusing the women at every turn. The ending could easily be commentary on society, if only that was intentional.
Sucker Punch feels like all Snyder’s other films. Watchmen and 300 feel like the parents of this film. Where both of those films had advancement and depth (and source material), Sucker Punch suffers from a lack of substance. Like most Michael Bay movies, this film is all flash and no substance. Though the film is fun to watch and visually stunning, the necessary elements of a well-constructed plot are absent. The plot is wafer thin and the characters are reduced to boy band/girl band archetypes. Definitely worth a watch, but leave your expectations at the door. I’ll see it again, but next time without the hope of a repeat of any of Snyder’s films. It’s his weakest film. 2.5 out of 5 stars.