Not to be confused with the abysmal British turner-offer Donkey Punch (2008)
What can I say, apart from go and see it? I can’t emphasize the importance of going into movies fresh as well. Pull out all the stops to be naive. The trailers and the hype spoil all the surprises. There were no opening credits, because great cinema doesn’t need to hook you with big names at the beginning, so I was welcomed by happy pop-ups such as Gretchen from Donnie Darko, or Jena Malone if you prefer, and Scott Glenn, the guy who keeps money under the floor in Training Day (2001). This got into flow fast. As is so often the case, an unseen “star” reaches the radar in almost 2 consecutive films – Abbie Cornish, from Limitless (2010). It’s funny how someone you are unaware of can feature in 2 movies you watch back-to-back and suddenly they are the hottest thing on the box since sliced bread and there’s no one else you’d rather be slobbering over, cough, I mean watching. This last occurred with Evan Racheal Wood, in The Wrestler (2008), and in King of California (2007), alongside the man virtually guaranteed to lose his rag in every production, the legendary Michael “goddamn” Douglas.
Sucker Punch (2011) is made for big HD tellies. And people like me. It’s always a good sign when the opening soundtrack is one of the teenage anthems that marked you growing up, a good remix of The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This. Did I recognize Bjork’s voice throughout, too? I was so impressed by the opening sequence that I almost started it again, which is super unusual, but I didn’t want to be there all night. That was 5 minutes in. At the 26 minute mark I had to take my hat off and take a breather. I almost turned it off so my memories of that first 26 minutes could live on as they were, and not be tarnished by another 82 minutes, which would only serve to surely water down the intensity of what I’d viewed so far.
It was the best 26 minutes ever. Its unforeseen evolution and skill truly "sucker punched" me. One epic twist is rare enough, in 90 minutes, such as Orphan (2009). By 26 minutes, in this, there’d been 2. And we’re talking a twist of Gothika (2003) proportions, when Halle Berry awakes as a patient in the hospital where she works, very early on in the film. There was that sense of reality flipping on its head, and then flipping on its head again. Dual existences and fantasy are what it’s all about, for myself. That sh*t is my bread n butter. Again, as with Hannah (2011), I could almost have been watching an adaptation of my own work.
Knowing others out there have emptied the entire contents of their creative psyches into scripts and then had their ideas propelled onto the screen via visual effects teams and millions of bucks reaffirms my Wheel of Life typology i.e that the individual hardly matters, as the life of humankind is a self-perpetuating cloud of regenerative / regurgitated / reincarnated artistry and creation. Phew! Best point in months! Months, I say!
It went on just a bit too long, milking that other reality for every cent, like The Hulk (2003) (2008) changing back-and-to far too many times; of course, expected, this is Warner Bros. here, but you can’t ask for a better balance between Hollywood happy endings and mind-bending, off-the-rails filmmaking than this. It was Gothika, Beowulf (2007), Resident Evil (2002), and a war movie in one. The thing is, however, I thought I was watching something like Gothika, so when it did its cross-genre tricks, I was stunned and gob-smacked with awe, fixed to the screen like a toddler watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Sad thing is, these very tricks are tools of promotion on the front cover and the marketing, so others will judge it against out-and-out single genre movies.
I swerved the front cover at first because it looked like something silly, and was only “sucked” in by a description line which mentioned the words “institutionalized” and “alternate reality”. Again, I stress how thrillingly rapturous it is to be swept away by a drastic change of course in a story rather than to enter it with preconceptions defined by billboards or adverts. Imagine your reaction if a talking, cigar-smoking unicorn in red leather boots made a debut halfway thru an episode of Columbo, against your reaction if you knew it was about to happen – no comparison, is there? Remember the Cadbury’s gorilla advert? Did you see that, or hear about it first?
There will always be a dilemma between selling the pitch and not giving too much away.
Go see this. Now. Or I’ll discipline you like I’m your dad and treat you like I’m your pimp. hohohaha
P.S Forgot to mention Carla Gugino from Snake Eyes (1998). Strong cast this.