Remember Emily Browning’s innocence as Violet in Lemony Snicket’s

“ A Series of Unfortunate Events?” Then, she graduated to a more disturbed role as

Anna in “The Uninvited.” Her various other roles have proven how underrated she is as

an actress, and now in  her twenties and much more grown up, she is the definitive main

attraction of Zack Snyder’s latest reality/fantasy film “Sucker Punch.”

Based on an original concept unlike 300 and Watchmen, Snyder’s pic chroni-

cles the hard life of Browning’s Babydoll who is forced into a mental institution by her

pervert stepfather to be lobotomized ( Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is the cautionary surgeon).

Snyder’s use of subdued noir like lighting intensifies the tragic circumstances surroun-

ding this injustice. But at the same time the story allows Babydoll to use her imagination,

in plotting  an escape along with four other female inmates.

At Browning’s side on this perilous rollercoaster is a talented cast of ladies with

colorful names. There’s Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), her younger sister Rocket (Jena Ma-

lone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). All of them attractive and

resigned to their present dismal situation as pleasure givers to frequent visitors to the in-

stitution. Until Babydoll enters the picture.

Their prime antagonist is the sadistic Blue played with sharp witted cleverness

by Oscar Isaac. Like the late great actor Paul Newman, he’s “Nobody’s Fool.” As head

honcho, he oversees everything with an investigative acuteness that makes you believe he

had to be some sort of detective before ending up as a crazy house manager/pimp. His im-

pact on everyone at the asylum is quite formidable.

Let’s face it, our heroines may be bold in their efforts, but they can always use

some help. And it comes in the form of veteran Scott Glenn as “The Wise Man” who is

their only outside support and mentor. He maybe a mere figment of  Babydoll’s imagina-

tion. Or maybe not because he convinces you of his reality and roughly guides them

through all the chaotic mayhem Browning’s dream world conjures.

Another ally, rather duplicitous but considerably more real, is Carla Gugino’s

Madame Gorsky. With her fancy updo inflating her importance in this mental zoo, she

faithfully and firmly instructs the girls in the theatrical arts, pushing them to show their

inner talents. She knows she must obey the wishes of her boss or face dire consequences

and simultaneously keep these fine ladies in the land of the living if Blu wants repeat


Babydoll’s talent is apparently dancing. But unfortunately you never get to see her

actually cut a rug. It’s replaced by her flights of fancy  as she and her cohorts battle zom-

bies, samurais, World War I zeppelins and ferocious fire breathing dragons; all in an ef-

fort to find five items that will guarantee their escape.

Snyder’s visuals, as they were for his Spartan epic 300 and provided by such f/x

magicians as Animal Logic, are quite stunning. When Sucker Punch lulls  a bit, he reener-

gizes the movie with another thrill trip, literally tossing his female quartet into nail biting

bedlam. There’s nothing surprising about them because you know when their coming –

and you anticipate them.

If you have watched the trailers, you know Scott Glenn’s Wiseman reveals every

item except the fifth, which is a mystery. It’s here of course where Snyder’s movie be-

comes intensely dramatic. Kind of reminds me of  Dorothy’s revelation in The Wizard

of Oz courtesy of Glinda. You may even figure out what this elusive mystery is before

Sucker Punch rolls it’s final credits.