There was no doubt that Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad”, “I, Tonya”), was the best thing in the much-maligned Suicide Squad and thus, it was no surprise that she was to have her own film.
That film is this; Birds Of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn, a film title that drags just as much as the film, it’s quite apt, not even Robbie can save this one.
The story, if you can consider what takes place a story, is a mess; uninteresting and unfunny. The directing is staid and the decision to show you events out of order isn’t ‘clever’ or ‘fun’, it quickly becomes annoying, showing too much of the now before Quinn interrupts in voice-over and we rewind so she can fill you in.
It feels like the movie centres around Dinah Lance / Black Canary, Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“True Blood (TV)”, “Hands Of Stone”), rather than Quinn. Lance sings in a nightclub belonging to Roman Sionis, Ewan McGregor (“Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker”, “Beauty And The Beast”), we haven’t even got to McGregor’s performance yet!
Quinn is untouchable in Gotham, doing whatever she likes to whomever she likes, because she’s attached to the Joker. That is, until she isn’t, as they’ve split up. When everyone finds out, Quinn becomes public enemy number one, well, bad-guy number one anyway.
Everyone she has ever wronged is now after her, wanting to exact revenge. This mainly takes place in a chase scene when detective Renee Montoya, Rosie Perez (“The Dead Don’t Die”, “White Men Can’t Jump”), chases her through a market, after this, it is mostly forgotten.
Anyway, after a series of coincidences (the whole film is full of massive coincidences), Black Canary becomes Sionis’ driver, much to her disgust – she has a moral compass it transpires – and is sent to retrieve the famous Bertinelli diamond, said to contain the codes to the Bertinelli family fortune.
She is sent with Victor Zsasz, Chris Messina (“Argo”, “The Mindy Project (TV)”), the cocky right-hand man to Sionis. Whilst stood outside, Zsasz has his pocket picked by Cassandra Cain, Ella Jay Basco (“Veep (TV)”, “Grey’s Anatomy (TV)”), a young orphan who is a known pickpocket.
Sionis is furious that the two have lost the diamond, but is placated by the thought of being able to kill Quinn, who is goons have captured. Quinn has other ideas (which involves a musical number, I kid you not) and convinces Sionis she can get the diamond back.
And on and on it goes until Quinn, Montoya, Black Canary, Cain and The Huntress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“10 Cloverfield Lane”, “Swiss Army Man”) – the only survivor of the Bertinelli massacre, the younger daughter, now a trained assassin – are trapped in an abandoned fairground surrounded by every hitman in Gotham, all vying to kill them and claim the $500,000 reward on Cain.
As the hitmen move in, we are treated to a rare high point in the movie as the women go to town and defeat the bad guys, who have guns, with nothing more than baseball bats and mallets.
As they make their way outside though, there are even more bad guys, with guns. The women are surrounded. So it’s an amazing stroke of luck that Black Canary suddenly manages to find her “voice”, her special power, of screaming in the general direction of bad guys and killing them or stunning them, or whatever actually happens to them.
Let’s get on to McGregor whilst we are here, he opens talking in a rather bad American accent, though switches to English mid-way through which no-one seems to comment on, before going back to American.
He plays Sionis as a camp, flamboyant bad-guy who has all the terror of a piece of wet spam. His sidekick, Messina, would have been a better choice. He plays the sleezy sidekick to perfection, you hate him, as you should.
Smollet-Bell is good as Black Canary, though why the movie centres around her is never made that clear other than you begin to get the impression that writer Christina Hodson (“Bumblebee”, “Shut In”) simply didn’t have enough material for Quinn to take the limelight.
Birds Of Prey is colourful, we’ll give it that, but it isn’t worth the price of admission of your hard earned money. Save it, save it for the forthcoming Tenet from Christopher Nolan, or No Time To Die, or Black Widow, all trailers that appeared before the film, all looked much better than the actual film.
7th February 2020
THE QUICK SELL
After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.