Zack Snyder has built himself a impressively successful career thus far. He slipped almost quietly through the back door with his remake of Dawn of the Dead (it didn't yet have that “Zack Snyder” stamp) but made people really stop and pay attention when he brought us the macho action-fest that was 300. Then he delivered what is likely the most slavishly faithful adaptation of a comic ever made, the dense and striking Watchmen. And his last film, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, was a misfire on so many levels.
Now Snyder is back with yet another big budget, highly stylized film with Sucker Punch, bringing his undoubtedly unique style to a plot that, unlike all of his previous films, isn't based on any previous source material. So does Snyder deliver the goods once more? In a way he does but only if you're looking for visuals and nothing more. This time around Snyder's hyper-active style actually hinders the film as a whole, with a relentless blur of admittedly gorgeous visuals not really serving much purpose and, as a result of the evidently random way the action and visuals crops up, the film is curiously unmemorable.
The story follows a 20-year-old woman, nicknamed Baby Doll (for some reason...), who, after the death of her mother, accidentally kills her little sister while trying to murder her stepfather. As a result her stepfather has her committed to a mental institution, ultimately left to the hands of one of the men who work their who use her and the rest of the inmates to make money off of men who pay to see them “perform.”
Baby Doll - alongside other inmates with names like Amber, Sweet Pea, Blondie and Rocket – decide they want to escape from their prison, with the help of some very wild imagination leading them to require specific items (a map, fire, a knife, a key) in order to escape.
Sucker Punch's initially intriguing premise unfortunately doesn't have enough there to back it up. The film sets up a framework for which the action is to take place i.e. in the imagination of Baby Doll and the rest of the escapees but the film doesn't play by its own rules - it doesn't play fair. Little makes sense and the whole thing doesn't hold together as it should. It may seem silly to say that a fantasy story doesn't make sense as that's ultimately part of the point. But even a fantasy film has to make sense within its own world and here there are serious issues in that department.