Birds of Prey gathers together an ensemble of female DC (anti) heroes, Black Canary, The Huntress, and Detective Montoya and of course Harley Quinn against the villains Black Mask and Victor Zasz.
Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn was one of the best things to come out of the cinematic dumpster fire that was Suicide Squad. Admittedly Suicide Squad sets a new low in what passes for a movie released by a major studio, let’s see if Birds of Prey flies on its own.
Harley Quinn is dealing with an eating ice cream by the tub, onesie-wearing bad breakup with the Joker by buying a hyena and competing in roller derby. Hey we’ve all been there. Losing her off limits status because of being Jokers Girl means she has a whole lot of enemies gunning for her. This gets Harley mixed up in the criminal business of Roman Sionis/Black Mask which in turn draws Black Canary, The Huntress and Detective Montoya on a collision course to track down a thief who stole the wrong thing, Cassandra Cain.
Things go predictably pear-shaped from there.
Margot Robbie again steals the show as Harley Quinn. She channels that moment everyone has either seen or been at 3am in the morning partying way too hard. Full of energy one minute and a little bit dangerous to themselves and everyone else a minute later. Robbie is a joy to watch in every scene.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress: The vigilante assassin. Her character although badass is mostly played for self-aware laughs and doesn’t really have much of a presence until the finale.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary. Black Canary starts out as a singer in Roman Sionis’ club and after demonstrating her capabilities at kicking ass gets bumped up to being his driver. This is the first thing I have seen Jurnee in and she puts in a fairly one note (pun intended) but passable performance as the sonic superhero.
Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, A Gotham City Police Detective, who is trying to bring down Sionis’ criminal empire. Rosie plays your stereotypical action movie cop which she gets ripped on for regularly.
Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain is a tough nut pickpocket that picks the wrong pocket and is pretty much the McGuffin of the film. I didn’t really like the performance or the character. Better writing might have saved the character but it reminded me a bit of Julian Dennison from Deadpool 2 which didn’t work for me either.
Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis / Black Mask has a little more character than in the comics and games. Ewan brings a twisted narcissistic edge to what was normally a pretty thin on the ground criminal boss. We could have done with a bit more of why Roman goes off the deep end and goes full Black Mask at the end.
Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz: Henchman and killer for Roman Sionis/Black Mask is played very creepily sadistic much like his comic and game adaptations.
The Bad Stuff
The titular Birds of Prey are hardly in it and when they are aren’t that well realized as characters and really don’t give you much reason to care about them or their future adventures.
Team Birds chemistry as a team never really gels together through the films paper thin plot.
The tone of the movie felt like it was trying a bit too hard to hit its R-16 rating, like they had a scene that was too violent and had to go from a PG-13 to an R and were like “ok might as well put a whole lot more fucks in” which felt needlessly edgy.
It does share some of the schizophrenic back and forth storytelling in common with Suicide Squad which is a product of poor writing rather than the stylistic choice it thinks its making.
Bruce the hyena is barely in it, maybe because he cost too much in cgi which is kind of sad.
The Good Stuff
Margot Robbie is great as Harley Quinn and was the best thing about Suicide Squad and likewise carries Birds of Prey with her zany performance singlehandedly. Make no mistake it is a Harley Quinn movie not a Birds of Prey movie.
The action sequences are stand out and elevates Birds of Prey into a decent action flick. Bones get broken, heads get bonked faces get kicked in brutal wide shots with minimal cuts or camera shake.
You can tell which fight scenes were shot by John Wick’s choreographer leading to some unevenness with the fight scenes some being fantastically brutal and some being downright goofy.
Ewan McGregor is a solid villain and if there were less Birds and more Harley vs Roman it could have been a lot better.
Birds of Prey is bright, loud and colourful which thankfully isn’t as over done as Suicide Squad but suits Harley Quinn’s style as greasy explosions of glitter pop off in exaggerated slow motion.
This is what you get if you crossed 60’s camp Batman with an R rated Ke$ha level hangover.
While unapologetically garish and thin on plot Birds of Prey makes it a feature with solid action sequences.
The rest of the cast in Birds of Prey almost feel like clutter and I’d rather see how Harley does holding her own movie with a more focused plot.
If you are up for some R-rated wacky violence in the same vein as Kick Ass and Deadpool, Birds of Prey is a good time.
Watch it if you:
Liked Kick Ass 1 and 2, Deadpool and Mystery Men
Are a fan of Harley Quinn
Are looking for some over the top fight scenes
Skip it if you:
Still have PTSD from Suicide Squad
Wanted a deeper Birds of Prey adaptation from the comics
Are expecting this to be Joker
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