This movie feels more like a video game.
All the characters are caricatures, the action defies all laws of
gravity and physics, and we’re striving toward an end result that leaves the
battlefield littered with bloodless bodies, but the heroine is saved.
The big difference is that she has to save herself.
And we’re not even sure, until the end, which one she is.
Emily Browning plays “Baby Doll,” a
teenage girl abused by her stepfather, framed for the murder of her little
sister, and institutionalized in an asylum for the criminally insane where
they throw away the key, and lock her inside with a bunch of cowed patients
and psychopath handlers. She learns to
survive by retreating to a fantasy world, where she is a powerful superhero,
armed and dangerous. She slays scores
of World War One Germans streaming out of the trenches in gas masks (note to
movie producers: these soldiers
shouldn’t be villainized like the Nazi SS in World War Two, and to do so
smacks of a racism probably unintended). Then
she slays some unknown knights guarding a castle (note to producers:
more neutral choice, but doesn’t provoke anything visceral in the
audience). And all this time, the
“girls” in the asylum, somehow all young and pretty, are portrayed as
involuntarily working in some kind of “dance” club (feel free to infer
what that means, because they don’t spell it out).
Speaking of being left to the
imagination, Baby Doll is supposed to be so enormously talented at
“dancing” that all who watch her are completely mesmerized----a nod to the
ancient mythology of the sexy Sirens alluring the hapless sailors toward the
rocks---but as viewers, we are instead transported to her fantasy world, where
she and her gun-toting lovelies must somehow come up with a map, a knife, a
lighter, a key, and something unknown, in order to make good their escape in
the “real” world. All this
instruction was solemnly intoned to them by the mysterious guru (Scott Glenn)
who later appears as a kindly bus driver. The
reason he’s important is because he’s the only male figure who’s not a
complete villain. But still, this flick
could be more aptly titled, “Girls Kick Butt.”
We’re not entirely sure. Adolescent
girls might root for the almost-invincible women warriors, but they’re in
the next theater, watching the romantic comedies.
The young guys might be enamored with the cute young actresses in the
skimpy outfits, and with the whole video-game aspect, but they’re not the
ones pushing the control buttons, and on this screen the men are criminally
Yes, “Sucker Punch” is inventive,
but it’s also relentlessly violent, and the only love is the martyrdom kind,
and the only goal is escape. Its
attraction will be confined to a very limited cinematically adventurous
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United