Sucker Punch (M)

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Review byMatthew Turner8/04/2011

One out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Depressingly awful fantasy thriller that fails on just about every level thanks to paper-thin characters, dull performances, flashy but empty action sequences and an atrocious script that manages to be simultaneously incoherent, woefully misguided and downright insulting.

What's it all about?
Conceived, co-written and directed by Zack Snyder, Sucker Punch stars Emily Browning as Baby Doll, a teenage girl who's imprisoned in an insane asylum after trying to kill her abusive step-father (Gerard Plunkett) following the death of her mother. When her step-father conspires with a sleazy orderly (Oscar Isaac) to have Baby Doll lobotomised in five days, Baby Doll hatches an elaborate escape plan and persuades fellow inmates Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone) and Amber (Jamie Chung) to join her.

The plan involves entering a series of fantasy worlds (Giant Samurai land, World War I battle land, Dragon Lair land and Futuristic Train-based Terrorism land) that are all somehow triggered by, um, Baby Doll dancing in a room full of sleazy strangers under the watchful eye of head doctor Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino). Whilst in the fantasy world, a mysterious stranger (Scott Glenn) points the girls towards various objects that will apparently help them to escape in real life, but first they have to complete a series of missions.

The Good
The only thing Sucker Punch has in its favour are the extraordinary special effects promised by the trailer. Unfortunately, all the fantasy worlds are painted in the same drab palette of greys and browns (resembling the no doubt soon-to-be-marketed computer game), so even the action sequences get progressively less interesting as they go along and eventually feel empty and pointless.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is an incoherent, poorly conceived script that can't be bothered to make its central conceit work. Fantasy worlds need their rules explained and by failing to establish the relationship of the fantasy sequences to the “real” world (we never understand how or why the dancing works, for example), the script feels more and more like a thinly-veiled excuse to show women kicking ass in skimpy uniforms and nothing else.

Similarly, the cast are saddled with underwritten roles (only Malone emerges with a glimmer of personality) and the painfully dull dialogue ensures that none of the characters come to life. On top of that, the film has been effectively neutered by its 12A rating, so it can't even deliver on its basic promise of sex and violence.

Worth seeing?
This is a crushing disappointment, made all the more frustrating because it wouldn't have taken that much of a rewrite to solve its problems. Awful.

Film Trailer

Sucker Punch (M)
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Content updated: 26/02/2020 22:30

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