Sunday, 25 September 2011

"Sucker Punch". A Review Of The 2011 Film Now Issued On A Double & Triple Pack BLU RAY.

"...Ask Yourself...Where Is My Mind?"

"Sucker Punch" gets close - it really does. For some of its duration - it absolutely rocks. Employing visuals that borrow heavily from Guillermo Del Toro's "Hellboy" and The Wachowski Brothers' "Matrix" (falling empty shell casings, running up and down walls with big guns and even bigger swords) - it serves up huge action set pieces that come at you with the breathtaking audacity of a Punk band doing their first gig.

The story goes something like this - the principal female character (the permanently soppy-faced Baby Doll played by Emily Browning) has five days to 'escape' before the 'High Roller' comes into town and does whatever that perverted twat does. Baby Doll and her fellow inmates are then instructed by a wise warrior (Scott Glenn) to gather up 5 items from 4 battles - a map, a knife, fire and a Key - the fifth item being an unknown - a mythical thing that will set them free if only Baby Doll can recognize what it is. It helps of course that the heroines look like a SEAL team from St. Trinians - tooled-up twenty-something nubiles with protruding cleavage, laced-up leather bodices, frilly skirts and Cheerleader ponytails.

It all sounds like great fun - and as I say - in parts it is. But all that hard-won admiration goes right out the window when we encounter the real world and the 'other' storyline...

The girls are really in a Vermont Sanatorium - orphaned and under the watchful eye of a violent slimeball called Blue (Oscar Isaac). The Lennox House for the Mentally Insane is a place where cruelty is an institutionalized norm and use of their bodies a lucrative side business. To alleviate all of this authority-ignored abuse of the inmates, Dr. Gorski (Carla Gugino) teaches each pretty young lady how to dance and thereby 'escape' to where there is no fear and they are free. "...That place can be as real as any pain..." she wisely councils them - poncing about the theatre area in her own ludicrously provocative outfit that's a composite of teacher, Madam and slut. And as you can imagine - it's these slyly staged scenes that will sorely test the patience of even the most open-minded of viewers. I hate to come across like an old prude here - but the 'girlpower' theme is so obviously exploitive - and worse - the film is blatantly guilty of voyeuristic sleaze it supposedly abhors.

But that’s not the worst part – there’s sickening cruelty doled out by men on the girls. Instead of empowerment of women we get assaults in kitchens, beatings in offices and lap dancing for grotesque male patrons. And "Sucker Punch" somehow seems to gloat on it too. It smacks of appalling hypocrisy and has of course caused an outcry in the States (as did the graphic violence to children in the sick "Watchmen"). Women's Groups everywhere may quite rightly feel that Director Zack Snyder needs to be taken outside - given a good slap - and told to grow up.

It's a damn shame because you can't help but think that with some obvious rejiggering of the plot - put all the fantasy action sequences together in one go with the Asylum stuff at the end - thereby giving you a big reveal and also giving the girls a freedom of sorts - Snyder might have indeed produced a genre masterpiece that actually said something into the bargain. The actresses themselves could also be accused of being 'suckered' into such an obvious mix of titillation and torture, but they were probably having too much fun swinging around on pulleys to notice.

"Sucker Punch" is not a movie I'm going to watch again willingly - let alone buy – and it’s hard to forgive its staggeringly convenient theme about the empowerment of women through sexy clothes and fighting. But some of those action sequences are great and some may feel it’s worth a rental for that alone.

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