Birds of Prey is everything a Harley Quinn movie should be — colorful, unpretentious, a little bit rebellious and a whole hell of a lot of fun. Margot Robbie (who stars and produces) takes the only good thing about Suicide Squad and throws her into a cascade of violence and colors and wry wit so powerful that it shakes off the rusty filters and morose tone that’s become something of a DC trademark.
Instead, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is playful and female-powered without being female pandering. Relative newcomer Cathy Yan directs with style and confidence while screenwriter Christina Hodson balances manic energy with emotional honesty and those little things only women understand — a tampon in a back pocket, a spare hair tie and the surprising power of being underestimated — to give Harley enough room to run and the titular Birds enough space to fly.
While Harley sews unending chaos in the wake of her split with Mr. J, Huntress (an absolutely delightful Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) find themselves pulled into a brewing conflict that ensnares a gangster (Ewan McGregor), his creepy bodyguard (Chris Messina), a young pickpocket (Ella Jay Basco), a massive diamond, a decades-old massacre, crooked cops … and an egg sandwich.
Birds of Prey accomplishes the neat feat of bouncing through time, leaning on voiceover and serving as an origin story without ever falling into any of the usual hazards associated with those tropes. Rather, it’s a tasty cocktail made up of all the best bits of a post-break-up chick flick, a crime comedy and riot grrrl sensibility.
However it sounds, the most complicated thing here is baddie Roman Sionis’ relationship with his favorite henchman. The film itself is unconcerned with anything but fierce fights, sharp bites and a little bit of anarchy, and thank goodness for that. The last thing we needed was another sanctimonious super, happily our first date with the newly single Harley is a much more energizing affair. And hopefully, a sign of more good things to come from the oft-embattled DC franchise.
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn
Director: Cathy Yan
Writer: Christina Hodson
Runtime: 1h 49mins
Release Date: February 7, 2020
Main Image Credit: Claudette Barius/ & © DC Comics
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