Movie review: 'Sucker Punch' (2 stars)
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino
Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” conjoins the two predominant stylistic influences felt in Hollywood movies these days — music videos and video games — into an intriguing but shapeless cinematic mess.
As the 1950s-set film begins, heroine Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is sent to an abusive mental institution and forced to undergo a lobotomy after accidentally killing her sister. Before long, the institution morphs into a high-end brothel — the psychiatrist (Carla Gugino) becomes the madam, an orderly (Oscar Isaac) a pimp, and Baby Doll the star of the show.
Baby Doll plots an escape and rounds up a group of fellow inmates (Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Jamie Chung) to join her. They gradually work toward busting out by completing military-style missions against mechanized villains in elaborate fantasy worlds.
Snyder (“300”), who co-wrote the film with Steve Shibuya, fails to give the narrative the grounded coherence required of a work that indulges in dreamscapes and complex imagined worlds. A blend of kinetic violence, over-the-top villainy and scantily clad women, the movie is a string of well-crafted sequences in search of a meaningful connection.
Burdened by one-dimensional protagonists and the mistaken belief that hyperactive cinematic flourishes compensate for the abandonment of storytelling basics, “Sucker Punch” is hardly the groundbreaking experience it thinks it is.