Take the creativity behind films like 300 and Watchmen and mix it with a complex, Inception-style, multiple-levelled narrative set in a mental-health facility and you get Suckerpunch. Written and directed by Zak Snyder and starring a host of up-and-coming actresses, Suckerpunch is a visual and mental treat for film-lovers.
The film begins and ends with a mysterious monologue which uses metaphor and allegory and that gives a good idea of how the film as a whole will go. We follow the lead, Babydoll (Emily Browning), who is institutionalised by her evil step-father and begins a journey to escape the facility.
Due to her mental state or just her over-imaginative mind, we move to an alternate reality as Babydoll forms and executes her plan and, yet a third level of reality plays home to the battles she faces in this escape attempt. The mental home gives way to a burlesque house which gives way to a battle-field. Complex doesn’t quite give the story justice.
It’s this third level which gives the visual style typical of Snyder and provides the surreal action sequences that make Suckerpunch unique. One only needs to look at the posters, the additional shorts available online and the promotional adverts to get a glimpse of these sequences but the real spectacle the film offers can only be felt by seeing the film itself. If clockwork, WW1 soldiers, castles and dragons and robot guarded nuclear bombs gather your interest, then go and have a watch.
As for the more realistic realities, the stories are almost as gripping as the action sequences but still the dark and dirty visual style is kept. There is a sense of desperation rife in the mental institute scenes and a similar sense of dirtiness and enforcement in the burlesque ones.
Although there isn’t much on offer from the acting abilities of the leading five girls in the film, in opposition to the truly villainous Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), a deal of sympathy is made for the quintet. It’s the classic underdog story and the slightly predictable twist that the film climaxes at makes a decent enough end to the film.
Suckerpunch is a provocative shock for the senses which could fit into both action-adventure and psychological thriller genre sections. In the mould of a video game, with mission briefings and all, it will serve to please fans of both these genres and, although it hasn’t lived up to many critics’ expectations, is well worth a trip to the big screen.