Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) Review

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After breaking up with the Joker for good, Harley Quinn sets out on a rollercoaster ride to establish herself as Harley Quinn with no Joker. No longer under the Joker’s protection, Harley’s enemies come out for revenge, the big one being Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), who ends up cooperating with Harley to retrieve the missing Bertinelli Diamond. 

By far, Birds of Prey has established a strong sense of women empowerment. The final fight between Harley’s all-women team of five, together making the Birds of Prey against a whole army of men is arguably the wildest scene in the whole film. Though undeniably a Harley Quinn film with the colourful filming and editing styles, the crew give each member of the Birds of Prey their fair share of back story and character development. Here, we have Jurnee Smollet-Bell (True Blood) as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) as Huntress and Rosie Perez (The Other Guys) as Detective Renee Montoya. The knockout performance for me has to be the big-screen newcomer Ella Jay Basco portraying the young pickpocket Cassandra Cain. 

Margot Robbie has again put on an excellent performance. Her portrayal of Harley’s vulnerabilities and growth with the rest of the Birds of Prey is inspired and intriguing enough to make you feel for her, but also feel somewhat overwhelmed by the first-hand narration from Harley herself and her story. However, it is Harley’s relationship with Cassandra that steals the spotlight for the most part; equally heart-warming and hilarious. 

This time, DC has taken a much brighter route to film making, compared to the award-winning Joker, which I argue makes this film a much more enjoyable and lighter watch, unless you’re in the mood for something profound. However, I found Birds of Prey a touch lagging at times. The first half of the film lacked something, though I struggled to pinpoint just what, accurately. It had its fair share of action and humour, but the tour that Harley takes us on through each character’s background felt somewhat dragged. The film begins to pick up and get exciting in the second half, where the action kicks in, and we see the Birds of Prey essentially beating up and killing a load of men. 

My biggest critique is perhaps with the villain. Ewan McGregor’s character Ronan Sionis was for sure the villain in the film but compared to others that we’ve seen in DC, Sionis was not the most gripping or most interesting one to date. He lacks a good character arc that turns him into the traditional evil villain we know and love to hate. All I saw was a greedy, narcissistic businessman. 

I cannot deny that Birds of Prey has its downfalls at times and only really starts to pick up in the latter half of it. But does the second half make up for it? I say, yes. For fans of Harley Quinn, the film has stayed true to her style and has empowered her character individually. An enjoyable watch overall.

★★★☆☆

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