Birds of Prey
Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey is an explorative look inside the mind of one of DC Comics' most outlandish characters Harley Quinn, played perfectly by Margot Robbie. Birds of Prey is creative and off-the-walls fun in ways that comic book movies usually aren't. The characters take the center stage, while the action and story follow suit to make for one of DC's more memorable adaptations in recent memory.
Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn in Cathy Yan‘s Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. DC’s latest R-rated comic book movie presents a unique story that focuses on the eccentric and full of life character that was last seen in David Ayer‘s dour and disappointing Suicide Squad.
In Yan’s film, Quinn is a rollercoaster of emotions, teaming up with a rag-tag group of colorful ladies to go one-on-one with the Black Mask, played with tasteful style and over-the-top glee by Ewan McGregor.
Birds of Prey is a creative adventure into the mind of Harley Quinn, capturing that chaos and energy with colorful set pieces, fun action and a story that paints a different (and brighter) picture when compared to DC’s latest.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has finally decided to split from the Joker. Whether she did it entirely on her own or if he kicked her to the curb is up for debate, but Harley is finally done with the Clown Prince of Crime in Gotham City.
Now, she’s on her own and looking for a way to get out of trouble, especially when dealing with Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) aka the Black Mask.
This puts Harley in direct line of sight with a few ladies, including Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Renee Montoya (Roise Perez) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell).
Birds of Prey unfolds in an untypical fashion, starting out with the main focus on Harley Quinn, then introducing these other supporting characters as the plot sees fit to bring them together in an organic way.
I originally was expecting a “team-forming” film sort of like the deflating Suicide Squad, but was pleasantly surprised with how director Cathy Yan decided to structure her film, which sort of brings everyone together at the right time, thus creating the eventual Birds of Prey team, but mostly just focusing on each woman’s problems and how they are dealing with them.
It’s no surprise that Margot Robbie nails the performance of Harley Quinn out of the park. She was born to play this role and in Birds of Prey she is given full creative control to explore the madness within Quinn and how she sees the world. It’s refreshing being able to see the film from Quinn’s perspective, which allows us to get closer to the character and to understand her motives in a much more intricate way when compared to her role in Suicide Squad.
I keep bringing up Suicide Squad, but I should mention that this film is nothing like that one and the only common traits that it shares are Harley’s origins and her ties to the Joker.
Birds of Prey is entirely its own movie, bursting with creativity and zest in a way that we haven’t seen on the big screen just yet. This is an R-rated movie, full of color and a fun energy that we don’t normally see in these types of flicks, not to mention its excessive use of F bombs.
There’s just something so refreshing and new about Birds of Prey that works and feels like true progression for DC and comic book movies in general. I hope that DC continues this impressive streak of just letting their artists tell these wild stories with a distinct voice as Joker and Birds of Prey are two examples of how you can make successful movies that are great and not just following the Marvel movie mold.
Christina Hodson‘s script focuses on characters, allowing for natural progression, bringing everyone together when it is absolutely appropriate. She also manages to load the movie full of outlandish comedy that works so well.
Each and every woman in this movie is a true bad ass in her own right, with Quinn obviously taking the cake as the leading lady of batshit insanity, while even the supporting players like Black Mask and Zsasz get their time to shine.
I especially enjoyed Ewan McGregor‘s performance as he was so over-the-top and just clearly having a great time playing the film’s unusual baddie with a flare for fashion and style. Black Mask is so unpredictable and unreasonable, yet you can’t help but to love his nastiness.
Watching him go toe-to-toe with Quinn and the rest of the gang was exciting and fun, without ever ruining the stakes of the film and what it was trying to accomplish.
Birds of Prey isn’t my favorite comic book movie of all-time, but it gets major points for being different and absolutely nailing what it set out to achieve. It’s a loud, wild and energetic look inside the world of Harley Quinn and the other colorful characters that help populate her life.
It’s action-packed, yet not focused on end-of-the-world plot points that have gotten tired over the years. It’s very contained, yet still tightly-scripted in a way that moves the film forward at a fast pace, but isn’t afraid to stop and relish in a nice breakfast sandwich. The attention to detail is strong and the resulting film feels fresh and progressive in ways that both Marvel and DC need to remember as they move forward.
Comic book fatigue can’t happen with directors like Cathy Yan shaking up the landscape and delivering something that is truly original and different. Birds of Prey has reinvigorated my love for comic book movies in the sense that it reminded me of how far reaching these films can be and how a unique take on a familiar character or story can make all of the difference.