Reviewed Aug 08, 2012
Let's get one thing straight from the start. If you like your movies completely laid out for you, requiring no participation on the part of the viewer to really see what's going on, then you would be well advised to steer clear of Suckerpunch.
If, on the other hand, you like a rich tapestry of ambition, art decor directing with a comic book sensibility and you don't mind doing a bit of thinking then you will find Suckerpunch and thrilling and rewarding assault on your brain.
Zack Snyder has so far produced mixed graphic novel big screen interpretations. His 300 was a crushing bore but his Watchmen touched on brilliance. Suckerpunch retains much a similar feeling to those films with lavishly detailed action sequences and designs which were made for the pages of a comic book.
The film is admittedly confusing in it's exposition. Emily Browning's Baby doll is packed off to a mental asylum by her evil stepfather for attempting to kill him after he kills her younger sister and lets her take the blame. The death of Baby doll's sister is not made clear at this point and it's only until later when it's mentioned that we know she died. This is Suckerpunch's narrative at it's worst and is the only major stumbling block the movie has. In the asylum, Baby doll joins forces with four other girls and her own imagination on a quest to escape by procuring several objects, the retrieval of each is played out in a fantasy action scene.
It is a bit of a headf**k but once you get your head around the idea that what is on screen is a fantasy world within a fantasy world and what each of the metaphors mean, Suckerpunch is one hell of a lot of fun.
The girls are caricatures and moulded like comic heroes. Even Browning in the lead doesn't get much chance to embellish her character but enough is done to make us care about them. By the time the credits roll, you do feel an emotional attachment to them, even if you might not know that much about them.
What Suckerpunch does very well though is show five young ladies kicking some serious ass. Each of the action sequences are stunningly good, nothing stays still for a second and very immersive. In this respect, Suckerpunch is likely to be the most exciting film of the year.
On the outside, Suckerpunch could look very messy and at times Snyder has been rather careless about the way in which he's put the film together. There could have been a smoother transition from the real world to that of make believe which is done too quickly. As said though, once you realise just what Snyder and the film is doing, then it doesn't stop the movie from being exciting and enthralling. It feels like Snyder only touches on what could have been an expansive world with Suckerpunch, and perhaps a film wasn't the best medium for it. But it is the one we have and it still kicks ass.