Sucker Punch

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens
Runtime: 110 mins
Rating: ***

Sucker Punch is director Zack Snyder’s (300, Watchmen) first original screenplay, and it certainly tells us a lot about him. He is clearly a visionary in the world of action movies, but sadly, he is not the greatest storyteller.

The film opens with a beautifully directed scene set entirely to a revamped version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” It presents us with a brief backstory of Babydoll (Emily Browning), which ends in her abusive step-father throwing her into a mental asylum. With a lobotomy due to occur in five days, she plans to break out of the instutition along with fellow patients Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and sisters Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone). In an attempt to escape her grim fate, she retreats into her mind, creating another world less harsh than reality. From there she falls further down the rabbit hole, imagining herself in a range of elaborate action scenarios.

Sucker Punch is a dream, a fantasy that jumps from world to world. It sees kick-ass girls in skimpy, anime-esque outfits fighting everything from giant samurai warriors and steam-powered Nazis to fire-breathing dragons. The fight scenes are driven by a powerful soundtrack, and with Snyder’s unique vision for choreographing action sequences, the combination makes for an experience of a videogame on the big screen.

Sadly, what this film lacks is any well-developed, emotive plot or interesting characters. From the opening there is huge potential, but it never gets out of first gear as far as story is concerned. The film is so wound up with being a series of dream sequences that there is no time to develop what is actually going on. Not to mention that the characters are hollow. We don’t really know where any of them came from or who they really are beyond their fighting personas. There is no sense that these figures are even remotely real.

Some will certainly love this, as after all it is beautiful to look at if you can block out the plot holes. But it’s hard not to think of what this film could have been if it would have had a strong story – just imagine.