Sucker Punch (2011)

Within the first few minutes of Sucker Punch, I wanted to shed a tear for the production. Not because of its quality, which looked fine right off the bat. No, I wanted to cry because of some of the events depicted on-screen. It’s a film that gets off to a sad beginning, which I believe works in its favor by the time it concludes.

The opening scene shows us a much maltreated Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her kid sister. Their mother has just died, and custody of them has been given to their stepfather. He’s, to put it bluntly, not a nice man. Things happen under his watch, leading to the death of Baby Doll’s sister. She gets blamed, and sentenced to serve a term in a mental institution. Unfortunately for her, her stepfather has paid what essentially amounts to a prison a large sum of money to have her lobotomized. She only has days left before the doctor comes to perform the procedure. She decides she’s not going down without a fight.

This is when things start to get weird. Baby Doll very well might be insane, as a lot of the film happens within her mind. There are two stages in her mind: A brothel where she and a few other girls are forced to dance for customers, and a war field where she teams up with these same girls to fight off all sorts of enemies, ranging from orcs to Nazis. In this second world, she finds the way she’ll escape from the asylum; she needs to gather a few magical items and use them in one grand escape plan.

How she plans to capture these items requires some of the other people at the brothel. There are four other girls there, and while Baby Doll dances for some of the clients—apparently they are unable to take their eyes off her while she dances, although we never get to see her dance—the other girls will steal these items. While the theft is going on in the brothel level, the audience is treated to grand-scale action sequences with all of the girls wielding guns, samurai swords, mechs and airplanes. Never a dull moment, right?

That last question of mine seems to be one of the main things that director Zack Snyder wanted to answer, and make sure that he focused on, while creating Sucker Punch. He may have actually gone a tad overboard in making sure that the audience isn’t bored. While the fight sequences are all interesting, and they are certainly all varied from one another, the enemies never seem to have much of an ability to harm any of the girls. There was a quote in the film about a child sitting at the edge of a sandbox while the other children play with his toys. The enemies in the film feel like toys. They get cut apart, gunned down and easily defeated without so much as a scratch on any of the female leads.

Sucker Punch is one of those films
that you’ll either really
enjoy, or really dislike.

But the battles against them certainly are interesting. Baby Doll, armed with a samurai sword and a handgun, initially isn’t up to the idea of taking control and actually fighting back against oppression. In the first 10 minutes of the film, you are hard-pressed to get a single word out of her. By the time she enters her second imaginative state—the one with big battlefields—she begins to take control. She becomes a leader of a squad, and has to act the part of a leader. If you want, you could say that Snyder mixed in a coming of age story within Sucker Punch, with Baby Doll having to mature far more quickly than she wants, as she is faced with difficult situation after difficult situation.

The most important thing that Sucker Punch had to do is be entertaining. It is. Or at least, I can say that I really had a good time while watching it. The action scenes could best be described with the words “visual spectacle,” as they look fantastic. Fans of Zack Snyder’s work know that there will be a lot of slow motion used, and that is exactly what happens. It’s still somewhat excessive, but because the film looks so nice, you usually don’t even notice that it’s being used; you like looking at the scenery so much that taking a longer glance at a particular shot is something that you want to do.

For what it’s worth (and in a film like this, the acting isn’t that important), I thought that the leading cast did a fine job with what they were given. There’s some heart behind each one of their performances, and in the emotional scenes of the film, that comes through. Given the extensive training that they all went through before filming began (rumor has it they had to be able deadlift 210 pounds), they all look able to do some of the stunts that the film requires. The action all takes place in a fantasy world, meaning you don’t have to be incredibly realistic, but the girls looked fit enough to wield swords and fight for extended periods of time.

Even though the most important part of an action film like Sucker Punch is its entertainment value, there’s an interesting enough story going on behind the action scenes. Whenever Baby Doll stops dancing and we return to the brothel, we remember that there is a plot about the girls’ escape going on, and it all flows back to you wonderfully. And without spoiling the ending at all, I will just say that it—and looking back, the rest of the film as well—will make you think, giving you a desire to re-watch it.

Sucker Punch is a good film for two main reasons: It’s entertaining, and it has an interesting enough story to make the action sequences mean something. The acting is fine, the visuals are incredible, the plot will leave you thinking, and the action scenes are unique and fun to watch. Had the girls’ been put in actual danger more often, then perhaps we would have an excellent film on our hands. As it is, Sucker Punch is one of those films that you’ll either really enjoy, or really dislike. I fall into the former category, and I say to give it a shot.

Conclusion: Sucker Punch is a really enjoyable movie.

Recommendation: If it sounds like your cup of tea, you need to see Sucker Punch.

  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10

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