Warner Brothers and DC have righted the ship that was the disaster of Suicide Squad with Birds of Prey: The Emancipation of One Harleen Quinzel. This is exactly what Suicide Squad should have been: a colourful, fun, carnival ride full of F-Bombs, guns, blood, and plenty of broken legs; basically, the exact opposite of last year’s smash Joker, but in a great and unique way.
Cathy Yan directs an almost perfect homage to Saturday morning cartoons from the 80s and 90s that’s perfect for this generation of movie goers. Birds of Prey has the fun and child-like corny sense of humor that those cartoons had but with a very R-Rated edge.
It’s as if Batman: The Animated Series (where Harley Quinn was first introduced) had a light-hearted sister that grew up at the same time as the kids who watched it have. Sure, the story is pretty simple and some of the characters need to be fleshed out a bit more, but this is a great, colorful spin off, live action cartoon.
The film stars Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad”, “The Wolf Of Wallstreet”) as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, a Psychology Ph.D. turned rampaging psychopath trying to get over her break up with the Joker. Robbie, again, completely embodies the look, voice, and completely bonkers attitude of the character and perfectly executes Quinn’s manic personality.
The movie is more of a Harley Quinn movie than a Birds of Prey movie since we are basically inside of her head as she narrates throughout the film and introduces us to the new cast of characters. All of the new leading ladies are cast perfectly for their respective roles and fit the tone of the movie flawlessly.
Huntress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Fargo (TV)”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”) is a badass, socially awkward silent type with a crossbow out for revenge who steals almost every scene she’s in. Black Canary, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, is a quiet, damaged singer who works for the big bad of the movie, Black Mask, played gloriously over-the-top by Ewan McGregor (“Doctor Sleep”, “Fargo (TV)”) who you can tell is having a blast in the role.
Renee Montoya, Rosie Perez (“The Dead Don’t Die”, “Rise (TV)”) was also great as the older, down on her luck cop who’s seen too many 80’s cop movies and is building a case against Black Mask.
Cassandra Cain, played by newcomer Ella Jay Basco (“Veep (TV)”, “Grey’s Anatomy (TV)”) is perfectly cast as well. She is a total smart-ass pickpocket that can hold her own against the smack talk by all of the other leading ladies and who ends up being at the center of the plot.
The story is admittedly, pretty simple, although the format moves back and forth in time in a really interesting and hectic way as it’s basically a stream of consciousness from our narrator Harley.
It begins with her drinking her way into oblivion because the Joker broke up with her. During her alcohol induced mayhem, she comes to the realization that she needs to emancipate herself from all of her terrible exes and become a strong independent woman that don’t need no man.
The problem is that now that her and Joker broke up, she lost the protection that he was providing for her, as everyone is afraid of the Crime Prince of Gotham. The entire underground crime world declares open season on Ms. Quinzel once they find out about the death of their relationship so she offers to find the girl who stole a diamond off of Victor Zsasz, Chris Messina (“Robot Chicken (TV)”, “Sharp Objects (TV)”), Black Mask’s right-hand man, in exchange for their protection.
Harley then goes off to find her and the crazy, over-the-top, and wonderfully colorful adventure ensues throughout the outskirts of Gotham City.
The action, direction, acting, and soundtrack all blend perfectly into a Saturday morning cartoon for adults that left me wanting more from this awesome new badass team. I had so much fun watching this in the theater, especially with a big crowd as the humor and creative action created a palpable, childlike glee from the entire audience.
If you get a chance, I would definitely recommend seeing this opening weekend, on the biggest screen possible so that your retinas can absorb all of the beautiful, blood splattered, colorful cinematography. The wonderful color pallet is full of blues and reds that truly pop off the screen and give it a refreshing and unique look.
You definitely have to give Warner Brothers and DC credit for trying something new and ballsy, er, ovary-y with this quasi-sequel to the mess that was Suicide Squad. This is definitely a kick ass girl power movie for this generation of movie goers.
Although the story was a bit simple and some of the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more (a feature length Huntress movie would be awesome), WB has created a colorful, crazy, violent, and hilariously crass version of Gotham City in Birds of Prey.
I hope the studio continues with this unique style of female-driven filmmaking for this series and I’m calling it now, Birds of Prey is going to make a ton of money with people seeing it multiple times in theaters, myself included. I’ve already got tickets to go see it again this weekend.
P.S. Stay until the end of the credits for some post credits goodies.