Birds Of Prey (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)
★★★★1/2 Letterboxd Score
Direction By: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco
Warner Bros. Pictures In Theatres now
“Birds of Prey” is essentially a slapstick, cartoonish film that embodies its source material—A COMIC BOOK!
It seems like some actors or actresses were destined to play certain roles; Heath Ledger and The Joker, Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, Al Pacino and Tony Montana. It is difficult to imagine anyone else playing these roles, or doing as great as a job. The same can be said for Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn. The level to which she has brought this character life is unlike any of her predecessors—in fact, none of the previous Harley Quinn iterations have been able to leave as much as of an impact as Margot Robbie has. She is what made “Birds of Prey” such a fun, exhilarating amusement park ride of a journey.
“Birds of Prey” has to pick up where it left off—on a very rocky start (Suicide Squad). I think we can all agree that it is not easy to go off of what was given to us with “Suicide Squad”. So, the fact that Director Cathy Yan was able to creatively adjust and break off into an explosive spin-off while maintaining small bits from the universe of “Suicide Squad” is more than incredible, it’s a great feat. We start with Harley Quinn’s origin story, how she became to be who she is. This all leads up to the grandiose break-up with the infamous Joker.
Once word gets out that she is now solo and no longer associated with The Joker, all of Gotham’s most notorious criminals want a piece of the menacing Harley Quinn. So she does what she does best—continues to cause mass hysteria. The one definite tone that you can feel throughout this movie and it is the ADHD infused, sloppy (but in a good way) mind of Harley Quinn. It has so many perfectly timed moments of humor that blend together so well with the dramatic moments. “Birds of Prey” is easily one of the closest adaptions of a comic book to film I have seen in a long time. (with Scott Pilgrim vs The World definitely being at the top…of course). Taking cues direct from Harley’s vocabulary and items such as the infamous mallet that she so often dons, Margot
Robbie really brings back the possibility that DCEU might have some life left in it. There is still entertainment value left to be cultivated.
Not only Margot breathed life into this project, but every member of the cast fit together so well. Black Mask played by Ewan McGregor added a less inherently evil, but still threatening villain. At times Black Mask was kiddish and sort of whiny, but it only added to the humorous tone of the story. Renee Montoya as played by Rosie Perez was another cliche cop character but did a great job and surprised me with the level action she partook in. Huntress played by Mary Elisabeth Winstead was probably the only character and subplot that I think could have been improved on. She was intertwined eventually in the main plot, but it felt sort rushed. Black Canary played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell did an incredible job. There was an intense action scene where her character had to take out three rough around the edges bad dudes and she did it so well, all while in heels and yes, this is one of the movies about female empowerment. It was never up in your face though. Never for a moment did I feel like this movie was shoving feminism down my throat in hopes to change my perspective on the world and women. Instead, it just feels like a group of badass women that came together to make a dope movie about some of our favorite comic book characters.
If you go into this expecting some profound piece of art that speaks through deeper meanings, you will be profoundly disappointed. It is clear right from the beginning that “Birds of Prey” is 100% fun, unadulterated entertainment. You should go see it. Really, do not overthink it, just buckle up and enjoy the ride.