It’s a fantasy within a fantasy that manages to feel like both a video game and a sick pervert’s imagination.
It’s not that “Sucker Punch,” which features the acting talents of Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung, is bad. Well, actually I take that back. It is. There is a bunch of potential just waiting to be let out. It even ends cleverly enough that has had people questioning what just happened.
However, there’s still the fact that this apparent girl-power movie is meant for slobbering teenage boys and the acting is so bad it hurts. It’s also dull. For a movie that could use camp to its advantage, it tries instead to take itself seriously and fails miserably.
The plot isn’t simple: Babydoll (Browning) is falsely accused of killing her little sister by her evil stepfather and is sent to an insane asylum where she is to be lobotomized in five days because her stepfather doesn’t want her to remember what really happened. Babydoll instead imagines herself in a 20s-era brothel, probably because it gave the director an excuse to dress his actresses in a bare minimum. She joins forces with Sweet Pea (Cornish), Rocket (Malone), Amber (Chung) and Blondie (Hudgens) to escape. They search for items to aid in their escape, in which Babydoll then fantasizes (within her other fantasy) they’re fighting in a fantasy-type World War I era, complete with dragons. There’s trouble, of course, and supposedly sad moments, but an audience can’t cry for or with a character that hasn’t been developed. The ending tries to be “Inception-like” but fails.
One thing that surprisingly isn’t horrible is the music. Browning provides some vocals on the album, with slowed downed versions of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics and “Where is My Mind?” by the Pixies that work to great effect within the movie. Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” done by Emiliana Torrini, is a great reinterpretation of a classic, along with Skunk Anansie’s version of Iggy Pop’s “Search and Destroy.” A song by Björk rounds the album off nicely. The music is perfectly suited for the gray hopelessness the movie projects.
It doesn’t help any of the scenes from defining bad cinema, however. Hudgens and Malone lack any type of spirit or heart, and Browning is a big-eyed, puffy-lipped, blonde school girl in tight clothing that rings more of “teenage boy fantasy” than “three-dimensional character.”
Cornish is the only actress that tries to rise above the horridness, but it’s to no avail. Her talent is wasted. It’s no surprise, when how the actresses look in black underwear and thigh highs is more important than their fighting abilities or back stories.
It’s a disappointment that a movie with such potential falls so flat. Hopefully the next time a director attempts a girl power action flick, it’s someone who doesn’t have any twisted fantasies in the back of their head.