Margot Robbie’s spectacular Harley Quinn returns to lead a great cast in the splendid Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Essentially a continuation of Robbie’s Suicide Squad stint, we pickup with heartbroken Harley seeking to find who she is without The Joker. On her way to freedom, she finds other women seeking a way out.
With direction from Cathy Yan – the first woman of color to direct a comic book film – BOP captures Gotham City from a lens we rarely see on film: a woman’s perspective. For all the times Martha’s pearls have spilled on an alley street, the women of Bruce Wayne’s orbit have always been secondary. This time around we witness how this crime-sick interpretation of NYC exists for the opposite sex. And it isn’t easy.
Yan examines the external and internal struggles our female characters face head-on. From toxic relationships, to the effects of trauma and loss, we see these formidable women bend, but not break. The way many felt wronged by Wonder Woman‘s final act, BOP is the total opposite, implying our characters’ strength is innate and reaches full potential in tandem with other women.
Robbie falls back into the spirited Harley with ease in DC’s female version of Deadpool. Breaking of the fourth wall and nonsensical narration works perfectly, adding a fun twist to a familiar story. Whether brutalizing a precinct of officers with a beanbag shotgun; or, grappling with her moral code, Robbie never misses a beat. She is Harleen Quinzel just as much as Ryan Reyonalds is Wade Wilson.
The supporting cast is just as strong. Rosie Perez is commanding as Renee Montoya, a different take on the great crime detective. Jurnee Smollett-Bell shines as Black Canary, a woman trying her best to remain invisible. I wish we had gotten a bit more Hunterss (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead), and newcomer Ella Jay Basco is adorable as Cassandra Cain. In addition to the women, Chris Messina is electric as serial killer Victor Zsasz. He almost steals the show from main baddie Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).
Along with great performances the film is a spectacle to watch. There’s great use of animation, art graphics and the action scenes keep you engaged. Great use of practical stunts keeps the action grounded, something good to see when many films rely heavily on CGI.
I don’t know what the box office will decide for this entry in the DCEU, but Birds of Prey was a great time and moment. Get free and see this movie.