Birds Of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is blissfully messy throughout, yet, its upheld by color action sequences, glittery bullets, and a prideful performance by Margot Robbie. It's an explosive comic flick chop-full of grit and confetti.
I, unfortunately, missed seeing Birds of Prey in the theaters and then COVID hit, and the rest is history. Luckily, HBO Max finally dropped Cathy Yan's (2018's Dead Pigs) newest additional to the DCEU. Birds of Prey is messy, narratively speaking, yet the film is upheld by several stellar performances — Margot Robbie, Ella Jay Basco, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Ewan McGregor. Yan gives this glittery-potluck of a film a beating heart and keeps its manic momentum going. The only critique I had with the movie was writer Christina Hodson's (2018's Bumblebee) jumbled structure in storytelling. The beginning and middle of this film jumps all over the place until it finally finds its footing. But this is Margot's baby, and she's no longer tied to Mr. J, so she gets to call the shots. Birds of Prey gives Gotham a new makeover, similar to the neon glow and structure of Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever (1995).
Yan's film also avoids objectifying our female hero's attire — something 2016's Suicide Squad failed to do. Robbie's Harley Quinn feels more like a three-dimensional person and not a prop that fanboys can fantasize over. We get a Harley with a more appealing, bright, and fierce look — a long yellow jumpsuit or a plastic raincoat (top) with an outburst of streamers and fringe. The solution to this exquisite clothing was, in particular, thanks to costume designer Erin Benach (Neon Demon, Drive, Loving, and 2018's A Star is Born). This choice of a female director (Yan), a female writer (Hodson), a female costume designer (Benach), and a female co-producer (Robbie) are the reasons I believe Birds of Prey succeeded in telling a comic-book story from a woman's perspective. Our film follows Harley (a knockout Robbie) and her mischief around the city — unfortunately, with Harley no longer being Mr. J's number two, the entire city of thieves are after her head.
This leads us to the plot of Cassandra "Cass" Cain (Basco): a young girl who has pick-pocketed her way into stealing a valuable diamond from Roman Sionis (a wild McGregor) a.k.a. Black Mask. Sionis puts a bounty on Cass's head, leading to a mass man-hunt of Gotham's most notorious criminals searching for her. Harley and Cass eventually cross paths leading Harley to become Cass's guardian throughout the film. There are several other subplots throughout the movie — Winstead's The Huntress backstory, Smollett-Bell's Black Canary transformation, and Perez's rogue detective, Renee Montoya. All roads lead our heroines to eventually square off with each other, and make alliances fighting together against Sionis. With all of its small missteps, Birds of Prey was a colorful firework display of strong female leads, glorious action sequences, and a mouthwatering egg sandwich scene. We also meet Harley's unusual pet, a spotted hyena named Bruce. In addition, Birds of Prey marked Yan as the first female Asian director to direct a superhero film. This was a fun cotton-candy superhero flick that I hope gets a sequel. Robbie and Yan's neon comic strip is chop-full of grit, confetti, and well worth your time.
Birds of Prey is rated R (Restricted) For strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.
Directed by Cathy Yan
Starring Margot Robbie, Ella Jay Basco, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Messina, Ali Wong, Dana Lee and Ewan McGregor.
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