Movie Review: Birds of Prey

Jeremy Crabb, Reporter

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) 

So here is something I have not mentioned in any of my previous reviews; I am a huge nerd. I am a big comic book guy and when it comes to films like Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (which is an unnecessarily long and bloated title), this is pretty much made for someone like myself. This is a film made for fans of the comics and these characters, and for that reason I had an absolute blast with this film, and it is one of DC’s best films in years.

Birds of Prey is one big comic book come to life. It’s unapologetically loud, crazy, and kinetic, and it does justice to its beloved source material and the characters they are portraying here, namely Harley Quinn, played brilliantly by Margot Robbie once again after her first appearance as the character in Suicide Squad (which is a horrendous film that gets worse every time I think about it, so it’s nice to see this character in a good big screen adaptation for once). The entire cast have a lot of charisma and work very well together, with Ewan McGregor being a big standout as a more comedic version of the famous DC villain Roman Sionis (aka Black Mask). Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress are also big standouts here, and are a lot of fun when they’re on screen. The action sequences, helmed by Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick films, are creative and stylish, sporting some very bombastic moments of violence and chaos. 

This film is like a shot of adrenaline to the heart, as it takes you into the chaotic mind of Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist-turned-maniac who in this film has cut ties with her ex-boyfriend, The Joker, and is on a mission to prove her independence, all the while, a young pickpocket named Cassandra Cain (a familiar name to those of you familiar with comics) steals a diamond from Roman Sionis and his boyfriend, Victor Zsasz (another familiar name for comic book readers) and is being pursued by Sionis and his men. Cain eventually comes into the hands of Harley who helps her (or at least as much as a notorious villain can). The two become a fun pair to watch on screen, and eventually team up with the titular band of heroines to take on Roman Sionis and his men in what is hands down one of DC’s best climatic action sequences. The film just oozes with style and flavor, and it’s so refreshing to see a comic book film with such an unhinged sense of creativity.

Where the film does falter in some aspects is in its structure. Because the film is reflecting to chaotic mind of its main character, Harley Quinn, the film often feels a bit messy with its structure, as the story rewinds quite often to give character exposition and to explain why certain events are occurring in the way they are in the present day storyline, and it can be a little jarring at times. Stylistically it’s a fun choice to reflect Harley’s mental state, but it does give the film some rough edges. The soundtrack is also a bit distracting, as some of the songs don’t fit and are just obnoxious, and it did take me out in some scenes. And finally, the film does not treat its male characters with any sort of dignity. Every male character is a jerk to our heroines and while it doesn’t necessarily bother me personally, as the female characters and male characters alike are all essentially criminals, it does pose a bit of an issue as far as representation goes, so I thought I should mention it.

As a whole though, I loved Birds of Prey. As a lifelong Harley Quinn fan I am quite satisfied with how this film was handled. Cathy Yan gives this film such a stylish jolt of energy that does justice to its source material while also changing up just enough that it feels like its own wacky thing. The action sequences are exciting, the characters are great, and the film is relentlessly entertaining to almost an exhausting degree. This was an utter blast and further proves that when DC does their own thing rather than copying Marvel’s homework, they can make something very special, and that is very much the case here.


GRADE: 4/5