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Sucker Punch


Stars: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, Scott Glenn, Jon Hamm, Gerard Plunkett

Director: Zack Snyder

Amazingly-conceived and realised fantasy action scenes are, alas, the only redeeming features of this comic-book caper that has little or no connection with its audience. Held for the (accidental) slaying of her sister, shot while both were resisting the advances of their sadistic stepfather (Plunkett) after the death of their mother, Laura (Browning) is committed to a lunatic asylum out of Edgar Allan Poe, where the inmates are all nubile young girls and Laura is renamed Babydoll.

In between scrubbing floors and cleaning out toilets, the girls are required to don fishnets and corselettes and parade in the asylum's brothel, where they dance for Mr Blue (Isaaac), who seems to be the head orderly, only with a snappy suit and moustache.

While Babydoll dances, she fantasises (perhaps within a fantasy) a meeting with a mysterious guru (Glenn), who tells her she needs a map, fire, a knife and a key, plus a mystery item, to be free.

Enlisting Sweetpea (Cornish), Rocket (Malone), Amber (Chung) and Blondie (Hudgens), Babydoll formulates a plan wherein she hypnotises people with her frenzied dancing (which we never see) while dreaming of wild fantasy adventures - taking on fearsome warriors, battling zombie WW1 Germans, slaying dragons and tackling a bomb on a train - while the aforementioned elements are obtained.

Or are these all the fantasies of a deranged mind and, if so, how come the escape plan is actually carried out at the end? It's hard to figure it out and harder still to care, especially with a career-threatening performance from Browning as the the permanently pouting Babydoll.

Glenn gamely plays it straight, appearing in each adventure segment with such aphorisms as 'Remember, ladies, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything'. Deep indeed! The film's production design is a breathtaking triumph, but it's the only one in a catalogue of disasters which might otherwise just have hacked it as an outrageous musical.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
110 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Mar 2011