After Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) breaks up with the Joker, crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) hunts her down. To protect Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pick-pocket whom Sionis is also after, Quinn enlists the help from several heroes.
One of the few bright spots from Suicide Squad, DC’s attempt to create their own Guardians of the Galaxy, was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Hearing Robbie’s Quinn was getting her own film made me excited and I was eager to see it. That finally happened with the lengthily named Bird of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Robbie proves that Harley don’t need no man to carry her own movie.
First off, the title is misleading. The actual Birds of Prey are more of an afterthought; Quinn is front and center. This film is just as scattered and off-the-wall as Quinn. Quinn is telling the story and continuously bounces back-and-forth between the present and flashbacks. At times this can be disorienting but that’s the point. The story is from Quinn’s point-of-view and she can be scatterbrained at times and the story telling reflects that. As for Robbie, there’s no actress that comes to mind who would fit the part as well as Robbie does. She is equal parts funny, athletic, crazy, and witty. Robbie has become synonymous with Harley Quinn, like Robert Downey Jr. with Tony Stark or Hugh Jackman with Wolverine.
As for the rest of the film, it does it’s best to keep up with the hectic Quinn. The ladies of the titular Birds of Prey are all well cast. One highlight in particular is Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the Huntress. Her awkwardness is a great contrast to Quinn’s eccentric-ness. On the other side of our main character (I don’t really want to call Quinn a hero or an anti-hero because, quite frankly, she isn’t either of those) is Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, played by Owen McGregor. McGregor plays the character as over-the-top, constantly with an infectious smile on his face.
Since Birds of Prey is rated R, it goes all in on the violence and there is cursing galore. I’m so glad to see that studios aren’t afraid to give comic book movies a higher rating anymore. While not always necessary, it does allow the filmmakers more freedoms and it’s almost required to properly translate certain characters to the big screen (see Deadpool and Logan for examples). While I do believe this film could have gotten by with a PG-13 rating, the action was exciting and full of energy. I also found myself constantly laughing. Between Quinn’s antics and Sionis’ entitled rich boy attitude, there weren’t many scenes that weren’t full of laughs.
As entertaining as this film can be, it’s not without flaws. The jumping around makes for a very disjointed story. Quinn completely takes over the story and the Birds of Prey themselves only receive just as much characterization as needed for the story even though each of them have enough history to fill their own films. They pop up here and there, coming together in the final scenes. Sionis is not well developed. Again, we hear reason’s why he is the bad guy but not much beyond that. And there is a lot of exposition, so I hope you like hearing about rather than seeing the characters.
I thought Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was GOOD 🙂 Margot Robbie has come to embody Harley Quinn and carries the movie on her back. The pace can be a bit jarring and chaotic but when it’s told from Quinn’s point-of-view what would you expect? The action, when it happens, is colorful and outrageous, and there is plenty of humor to go with Quinn’s clown motif. In typical comic book movie fashion, the villain only exists to give the main character an adversary and isn’t developed very much. The good news, though, is Ewan McGregor plays the part phenomenally. It’s too bad this movie wasn’t marketed well because there is a lot to like and deserves a better box office performance than what is has received.
Cast & Crew
Cathy Yan – Director
Christina Hodson – Writer
Daniel Pemberton – Composer
Margot Robbie – Harley Quinn
Rosie Perez – Renee Montoya
Jurnee Smollett-Bell – Dinah Lance / Black Canary
Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Helena Bertinelli / The Huntress
Ella Jay Basco – Cassandra Cain
Ewan McGregor – Roman Sionis / Black Mask
Chris Messina – Victor Zsasz
Steven Williams – Captain Patrick Erickson
Ali Wong – Ellen Yee