By Kevin Hoskinson
In 2016, Warner Bros and DC debuted “Suicide Squad,” a film that was met with divisive reviews but did decently at the box office. While the film was a so-so affair, it showcased characters we hadn’t seen on the big screen before. Most notably, it was the live-action debut of one Harley Quinn. Played pitch-perfectly by Margot Robbie, she was easily the stand out of the film. And after years of rumors and rumblings of when fans would see her again, the wait is finally over.
“Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn” or now just “Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey” (because we couldn’t figure out that Harley was in it the first time? Whatever, I’m not judging.. but huh?) is now in cinemas everywhere. And while the focus may be on Harley, it works great as a prequel to a full-fledged Birds of Prey film in the future, if we ever get one.
Harley Quinn, recovering from a break-up from the Joker, is trying to start a new life and pave her own path. After years of living in his shadow, and being under his protection, she forgot how to survive on her own. But she is a strong woman and realizes that she doesn’t need anyone like Mr. J to help her. There is a cost to her being alone now, though; she is an open target to anyone who wants to destroy her. And at the top of that list of people who want her dead is crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a.k.a. Black Mask.
While this is terrible news for her, things start to look up when she unexpectedly teams up with three of Gotham City’s most deadly women. Black Canary, Huntress, and Detective Renee Montoya (Jurney Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosie Perez) all have their own motives, but with the same goal in mind; takedown Sionis once and for all. Not to mention they must also protect a teenage Cassandra Cain, who has something that Roman wants, and he will stop at nothing to get it.
Directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs), Birds Of Prey is an uproarious, insane, and ludicrous trip through Gotham City in all the best ways. It’s a rated R comic book film that doesn’t hold back any punches. From the opening frame of the movie, it’s very clear that this isn’t going to be the same thing you have seen a hundred times.
Harley Quinn is a role that Margot Robbie was born to play. She is an amazing actress, and while the movie itself isn’t very deep plot-wise, she brings a whole other depth to it. Smollett-Bell is now my new favorite incarnation of Black Canary, bringing her own vibe to the character. Winstead is great as Huntress, and it’s always a joy seeing Rosie Perez on the big screen. Ewan McGregor has so much fun playing Sionis; he is so good in the part. It’s been a long time since we have seen him play a baddie, and it’s roles like this that remind us how incredible of an actor he is.
The action sequences are really cool and fun to watch. There is a Looney Tunes theme throughout the movie, and the action takes advantage of that. It is really well choreographed while being violent and cartoonish at the same time. It fits with the style of the movie, and with Harley especially. There is a great sequence early on in the film concerning an egg sandwich, and it is one of the best examples of how the humor and action work so well together.
The aesthetics and style of the film are different than previously seen in DC universe movies. It still has a dark and gritty undertone, but the overall look is bright and colorful. It’s a very punk rock side of Gotham City that we haven’t seen before. It’s a hilarious film as well, with shades of “Deadpool” thrown in.
Birds Of Prey is a welcome addition to the slate of DC films. While it sometimes falters with its tone, it quickly recovers and brings the focus back where it should be. Fun characters, great action, and some wonderful humor make this movie extremely entertaining. I had a lot of fun hanging out with this team of bad-ass women, and I definitely recommend checking it out.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10
Kevin Hoskinson is a writer with a deep-seeded love for movies, comic books, television and the paranormal. From humble beginnings working the box office at his local movie theater, he’s worked his way to becoming a humble family man and professional bug exterminator. Growing up, he wanted to become an astronaut, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, and a Disney animator before he found his passion for writing as a teen. He studied film at Los Angeles Valley College with an emphasis on screenwriting and film criticism. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two kids. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter @Kevin_Hoskinson, and Instagram @kevinhoskinson.