Before Sucker Punch, Zach Snyder had never quite made a bad film, his sense of style seeing him through even where the plot was confused (Watchmen) or absent (300). Sadly, even the technical showmanship he demonstrates in his latest film can’t save it – Sucker Punch really has no redeeming values.
The plot, such as it is, begins with Babydoll (Emily Browning), being framed for murder and thrown in a mental asylum. From here she escapes into her mind, first imagining herself to be in a brothel and then a world of samurais, Nazi zombies and explosions. Confused yet? The plot never rises above incoherent. The scenes of video game-like violence are thrown in with little to no context, and it is never made clear why Babydoll would choose a brothel as her place of mental escape, when the world she creates there is so much worse than the mental asylum she is leaving behind.
The real reason, of course, why Sucker Punch places its heroine in a brothel is to up the number of female characters on screen and drastically reduce the amount of clothes they’re wearing. The film pretends to be about female empowerment – in reality it is a fantasy for 13-year olds. Not doing anything to contradict this are the fight scenes, which are deliberately intended to feel as though they’ve come from an Xbox game.
The problem is that even Snyder’s target audience will be turned off by the film’s tone. Incomprehensible and even offensive Sucker Punch may be, but it could have still been a guilty pleasure along the lines of Crank. But Snyder gives his film a blacker than black atmosphere, piling misery on misery, tragedy on tragedy – simply put, Sucker Punch isn’t a whole lot of fun to watch. It’s a catastrophic miscalculation on Snyder’s part, and one that will prevent Sucker Punch from appealing even to those 13 year olds it’s thrown everything away to woo.