Before I even begin the movies new name is Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey rather than the extremely stupid title, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, which I will never understand how that title got the green light, especially in this day and age in Hollywood. Regardless of what the film is called it is pretty good and I found myself really getting into the action and performances. Margot Robbie really has this character down. I don’t really like the phrase “born to play this role,” but she totally was and I’m going to say it. Margot Robbie was born to play this role.
Let’s start with the things that hold the movie back a bit. Firstly, the narration is good addition, Robbie kills as this character so getting extra dialogue from here is great. There is, however, too much of it. Show me don’t tell me, unless of course, you have to tell me because heaven forbid we have to deal with more of Leto’s Joker which I consider to be unwatchable and the worst parts of Suicide Squad. We need to know the aren’t together anymore and this is all done with narration. The other thing that I think holds the film back is the backtracking it does. We constantly, at least in the first two acts, get a good amount of steam built up and lose it all when the film tells us to “wait, we need to see how we got here.” Not really. We are here, I was enjoying being here and now we have to go back. The film would have been just fine telling us the story in chronological order. Like the narration using this crutch could have been useful once, but not as many times as the story did. They even stop in the middle of a badass action scene to rewind which as mentioned before, kills the momentum of the scene.
Ewan McGregor plays Black Mask and is hilariously over the top for most of the film. You fear what he is capable of and they show it all in graphic faction. He is a murdering asshole who is somewhat of a misogynist and it feels great to see a group of girls go after his evil ass. I can see people thinking he is too over the top but in the context of the film, his character is against Harley and the team who never really are. Harley is more grounded than you would seem and it works with the villain she is up against.
There are a lot of things that I really loved about the film. The opening is great, a quick recap of Harley’s life for those who don’t know. It hasn’t really been explored up until this point at least her entire background up to and including she has a Ph.D. Did you know that? The film is really funny and I laughed out loud a ton while watching it. Seeing the great actor Rosie Perez in a shirt that reads “I shaved my balls for this” had me in tears. The film uses a a very tasty bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches as a metaphor for love and loss and it factors into the opening action scene in the film in a major way. The film is shot very well and is colorful as hell. It has a similar color pallet to the film it is a follow up to, Suicide Squad, and uses that film’s best feature in the best way possible.
The action is by far the best part of the film. All of the main characters are portrayed and totally badass fighters and killers, although the killing is kept to a minimum. It doesn’t make sense that Harley would kill some people and not others but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t stop me from liking the way that particular part of the film was shot. It was obviously an aesthetic choice and not a plot driven one. You can see all the action clearly and establishing shots make it easy to know where/when everything is so the action makes sense and is still hard hitting.
Calling the film Birds of Prey was a bad idea from the start both because no one knows who the hell they are and they are in the film for so little it doesn’t even really work as an origin story either. (Thank god it wasn’t, I don’t think I can sit though another comic book origin story of characters we already have seen on screen.) This film is a Harley Quinn story through and through and one I would highly recommend to all fans of DC or Marvel or comic books or action or… you get the picture. Go see the film so we can get more Harley on screen because this film is not making money and we won’t again if it doesn’t!