Films Reviews

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020) – Film Review

Not a film about your local falconry display

I was worried that Birds of Prey would be too much like 2016s Suicide Squad. That film came at a time where DC and Warner Brothers had absolutely no idea how it wanted to proceed after the lukewarm reaction to Batman v Superman and Man of Steel.

Thankfully, there has been course correction since and a move to more independent and stand-alone movies. This began with 2019’s Joker film, and we’re now at a time where we’re starting to see much more of offspring of their work. This is one with closer ties to the original mess that was the DC Expanded Universe.

Amazingly, it is paying off. Birds of Prey is a lot of fun. It sets out to make a great film out of Suicide Squads stand-out character Harley Quinn while setting up a new and exciting place for movies to take place in. This is one that is much more isolated and independent from the one it spawned from and also more naturally colourful and entertaining. That is something that really worked for me with Birds of Prey, the overall tone. It doesn’t want to take itself too seriously but isn’t a campy CGI-mess like Aquaman.

The film follows Quinn after she breaks up from the Joker (Jared Leto version) and tries to make it on her own. Everyone in Gotham is after her now though, especially Black Mask, played by the insane and absolutely electric Ewan McGregor.

Through luck, she manages to accidentally trigger events that lead to the forming of the Birds of Prey, made up of Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Reneyee Montoya (Rosie Perez). They all team up to protect a kid called Kassandra from Black Mask and his goons.

The story is told by Quinn, which makes for some funny moments with her narration. But, it also leads to her retelling and re-treading the story due to her missing bits or being unreliable. It doesn’t work for me just due to how much it ends up slowing down and moving around the story.

It almost feels as if they’re trying to fill time with the extra effort, there is really no reason for it not to be linear. Due to this narration, it is now getting comparisons made to it and Deadpool, which is a shallow comparison because they only really share fourth wall breaking and comedy, if that’s the case they’re also all just like XXXX

Like I said before, I found the cast to be great. Especially Margot Robbie returning as Harley Quinn, she was quickly the great stand-out in Suicide Squad and is even better here now that she is off that leash of a lousy script and even worse Joker. She feels much more authentic to how you’d want to see this character portrayed on the big screen.

The internet also seems to be in a tizzy about just how “woke” this film is. Many an idiot have screamed into a void about the lack of sexualisation and PC culture behind it. The idea that it is progressive in any way other than the fact there are multiple female characters is entirely ridiculous to me.

This is a fun, comic book action movie with a brilliant dynamic between characters. It feels as authentic and genuine to the source as you’d want to it be and just because Harley Quinn doesn’t bend over to reveal her arse to the camera, doesn’t mean that the PC god is out to get you.

You can expect a great time from Birds of Prey. It is by no means a masterpiece and definitely has its issues with pacing and structure. Still, as a fun action film from a comic book source, the film definitely does its job. I don’t think we’ll see another movie like this for a bit due to its poor box office performance (a result of bad marketing), and that is a shame.

The adventures of this Harley Quinn and the newly formed Birds of Prey are ones I am interested to see. Which is saying something given how much I didn’t care for the DC films that came before it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Birds of Prey and The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is in cinemas now!

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