Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Birds of Prey

After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

For all that ‘Suicide Squad’ was an absolute mess, it still made a ton of money, so it’s no surprise that DC Comics have returned to this world to focus on the breakout character of that movie in Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Indeed, such is Robbie’s popularity in the role that the film has actually been retitled after its release to include the character’s name after a disappointing box office opening (an interesting sidebar closely following on from the adjustments made to ‘Cats’ after it had hit cinemas). I didn’t like ‘Suicide Squad’, and I didn’t like ‘Birds of Prey’, which doubles down on the annoyance of the Quinn character whilst also managing to provide her with an even more annoying antagonist to face off against in Ewan McGregor’s ‘Black Mask’.

The premise of the film focuses on Quinn coming to terms with her breakup from the Joker after the events of ‘Suicide Squad’ and she’s not taking it well, behaving more erratically than normal and drawing the attention of Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and nightclub owning gangster (is there any other kind in cinema?) Roman Sionis (McGregor). When a young thief makes off with a valuable diamond containing the access to an uninherited fortune, it sets these three individuals off on a mission to track the thief and the diamond down, with numerous other colourful inhabitants of Gotham City appearing along the way. The film is in your face, almost obnoxiously so, directed with such speed to be nauseating, but it’s also filled with well choreographed action scenes and Robbie is really perfect in the central role.

Like many recent superhero films, it feels like one long setup for a sequel with the ‘Birds of Prey’ of the title only really coming together towards the films conclusion, and this film in itself isn’t interesting enough to make me interested in whatever that sequel may be. A special mention to Ewan McGregor who delivers one of the worst performances of his career – it’s partly due to him being miscast in the role, partly bad dialogue, and partly down to his performance being more animated than suits him. He’s not alone in that respect to be fair. I thought ‘Birds of Prey’ was a messy, unfocused movie, partly by design to reflect the anarchic nature of its central character, but the main takeaway I have from it is just how irritating I found it to be.

Rating: 2/5

Directed By: Cathy Yan

Starring: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco and Ali Wong

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