Note: This is a spoiler-free Birds of Prey movie review
If 2019 marks the end of more than a few comic book movie sagas, 2020 marks a new beginning. A new beginning opens the door for a new type, and gender, of superhero. You can now consider that door flung wide open.
Birds of Prey is another unique DC Comics movie, jammed with action and a screen-commanding performance from Margot Robbie.
Margot Is Again Magnificent
Margot Robbie is the rightful the centerpiece of the movie and doesn’t waste the opportunity. The standout star of Suicide Squad picks up right where she left off in Birds of Prey. Robbie is cynical, destructive, endearing, and charming all at the same time in bringing Harley Quinn’s character to life.
Birds of Prey is the Harley Quinn origin story that everyone was looking for before Suicide Squad happened. It now serves as a de facto sequel to that movie, rather than a prequel.￼
Robbie revitalizes a role that she was seemingly born to play, and again doesn’t dissapoint.
The actress will already be at the Oscars this year for her role in a critically-acclaimed movie. The fact she’s able to flex into this type of character and carry her own movie further solidifies her acting prowess.
The main issue with the Birds of Prey story is that there simply isn’t much to it￼. Much like Suicide Squad, this DC rendition introduces a lot of characters simultaneously. That makes this story jumbled and all over the place. We already know about Harley but that’s about it and there are four other distinct characters to meet in Birds of Prey. Outside of their character introduction, the storyline is extremely simple and lacks substance.
Our famed Harley Quinn is fed up with being a harlequin, looking to make her own way in the world after a break up with the Joker. Her chaotic world collides with that of three other women and a sticky-fingered girl who are as fed up with the man’s world as she is.
None of our other heroines really shine the way that Harley Quinn does, which makes sense due to the disproportionate screen time. The one who pops off the screen the most is Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). She is a parlor singer turned driver who has a much greater talent that no one knows about. She’s also a hand-to-hand ass-kicker much like Harley, and even saves Quinn’s bacon a few times.￼￼ If you’re looking for another performance and character that might create her own movie, this is it.
Cool but underutilized is the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) (or the Crossbow Killer, depending on who you talk to). Her story is one of pure revenge and she’s ruthless in getting it any way possible. Outside of that she doesn’t have many lines￼ and doesn’t really attach to the audience.￼
Unfortunately, Rosie Perez doesn’t add much to Birds of Prey at all as Renee Montoya. Outside of a lot of really bad cop puns and wearing a funny T-shirt for most of the movie.￼
The wild card of the group is the pickpocketing teenager Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who inadvertently brings this band of misfits together. Cain is a bit of a smartass trying to make her way in the world. What she doesn’t realize is she stole from the wrong Gotham City mobster this time, and she has to count on Harley Quinn to bail her out. Quinn acts like she’s teaching Cassandra the way of the world, but often more often its the elder learning from the teenager.
Basco and Robbie have decent on-screen chemistry, which is good because they’re together the most.
The shortage of story is hidden by a litany of action scenes. Those scenes are a fantastic display, showcasing a variety of women kicking a lot of ass in a lot of different ways. Harley is again the focal point of the whippings￼, showing off a variety of fun and unique stunt work. Her weapons include the classic mallet hammer, sure. But you also see her using a baseball bat, a fun gun, a bowling ball, and a pair of rollerskates to dole out the punishment.￼￼
A Worthy Villain
Ewan McGregor is quite good in his antagonist role as the Black Mask. He’s one of those quirky villains, which fits right into a story where Harley Quinn is the hero. He can be happy go lucky and fun one minute, and then flip the switch to ruthless and face peeling-ly evil the next. Truthfully he belongs insane asylum, which really tracks for the type of man that Harley Quinn tends to attract.￼
Should I See Birds of Prey?
Birds of Prey is a fun ride to kick off the year of the female superhero. It’s short, action-packed, and doesn’t require much thought. If you’re looking for an easy watch in a season when everything else in your face is competing for awards, this movie makes for an entertaining night out.
(Featured Image courtesy of EPK)