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Sucker Punch - Review

Sucker Punch

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

ZACK Snyder’s first film derived from his own screenplay is, already, one of the worst films of the year.

Loud, nonsensical, repetitive and ultimately pointless Sucker Punch also has the dubious distinction of being utterly tasteless.

The British censors should take a hit, too, for allowing a film that relies so heavily on the threat of sexual violence and pervy male rape fantasies to be given a 12A certificate.

Snyder will probably argue that his film is about female empowerment that plays to both sexes and all audiences (he has said it’s a critique on geek culture’s inherent sexism) – but even then it’s hard to see who will derive the most pleasure from it outside of gamers who get their kicks from shoot-em-up scenarios.

So, what the hell went wrong? Snyder, for instance, has established himself as one of the most visually distinctive filmmakers of the moment who can bring style, grit and innovation to his films, whether remaking Dawn of The Dead or adapting graphic novels (300 and Watchmen).

Here, though, he drops the ball both visually and narratively. Firstly, his story doesn’t make sense, following as it does the fortunes of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a plucky teenager who is sent to an asylum by her abusive stepdad following the death of her mother and an accident involving her younger sister.

Once there, and following a dirty deal between her step-dad and the asylum’s Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), she is due to be labotomised so that evidence of the former’s misdeeds can never come to light.

Baby Doll, though, has other ideas and plans to escape by enlisting the help of some fellow patients (including Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Vanessa Hudgens) and entering an alternative reality powered by her imagination. She then must gather five items in order to make good her plan.

Alas, under Snyder’s direction, the ensuing fantasy action-adventure falls quickly apart at the seams.

The set pieces, while visually striking, lack any sense of peril and are clearly derived from other, better movies (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix et al) with a little of John Carpenter’s The Ward thrown in, while the ham-fisted attempts at character building and female bonding are as skimpy as the girls’ costumes.

After the first couple of fantasy trips you simply won’t care what becomes of any of the characters.

To make matters worse, Snyder’s ending seems to be as confused and ill-conceived as the rest of the movie, while his sexual undertones quickly become offensive.

Needless to say, the performances suffer as few, if any (save maybe Cornish) are able to do anything with either the thinly sketched material or the fact that Snyder sets most of their key emotional scenes to a pulsating and often drowning soundtrack.

Indeed, his entire film might work better as an extended pop promo and would certainly have been over quicker!

In the final analysis, then, Snyder’s film is more likely to leave viewers wanting to punch the sucker who made it as well as, ultimatey, themselves for not heeding the advice in this review! Avoid!

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 110mins
UK Release Date: April 1, 2011