Harley Quinn busts loose with the assist of some badass Gotham dames.
What was once Birds of Prey: The Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is now Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. The watered down title change aims to generate interest after the film’s been misleadingly dubbed a “box office failure.” The former may have been inaccurate, but it was as scatter brained as Harley Quinn: a fowl mouthed firecracker that absolutely steals the screen in her latest outing, regardless of what critics are saying.
If there was any doubt that Margot Robbie was born to play Quinn, the proof is still in the puddin.’ Though you won’t be hearing much of that word in this one, considering this immediately follows the breakup of Harley and Joker. The end of that toxic relationship brings new challenges for Harley: trying not to slip into a sad food coma, finding the right companion (a hyena named Bruce), and avoiding the enemies she’s made along the way without the protection of her puddin.’
Now that she’s not with the Joker, she doesn’t have his name to shield her from all the twisted shit she could get away with when they were a thing. The guy with the biggest target on her back: crime lord Roman Sionis, or Black Mask when it’s dramatically called for. Sionis, played by Ewan McGregor, gives an offbeat flavor to the sinister narcissist in charge, and was a genius casting decision.
On the run from his malicious intent (and a personality that rivals the Joker’s) Harley bumps into some other caged birds. Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a pitch perfect singer whose under the weighted wing of Sionis. A detective named Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) that’s trying to bust his operation without the hindrance of her boss. Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an orphan from a crime boss family in Gotham that’s out for revenge under the assumed identity of Huntress (her tough exterior lends to some comedic cracks). Then we have the kid who sets the whole story in motion, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a pickpocket that happens to pick the wrong pocket; whose similar to Russell from Deadpool 2.
Though the name change may have been a sour act, it does focus the attention on the real star of this story: Harley. She radiates a crazy sense of fun wherever she goes, thanks to Robbie who puts everything into the character: bringing John Wick action to the screen, tearing it up at the roller derby, or falling hopelessly in love with an egg sandwich.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is something that’s necessary for both audiences and the character. A female-led, female-directed action movie that isn’t preachy or condescending, but powerful. Though our birds of prey aren’t used nearly enough, when they are, they’re a force. A celebration of the superhero persona and the everyday woman trying to survive in Gotham, nary a clown in sight.