Birds of Prey and the Fabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn deserves a better reception than it’s received. It’s violent, bloody, over-the-top slapstick fun.
Few highlights can be found in the 2016 film, ‘Suicide Squad‘. Despite slick marketing and cleverly cut trailers the movie itself was a mess. But look hard enough and you’ll find the diamond in the rough in any circumstance. One character in particular shone brighter than all others. A character that has inspired a million cosplayers. That exemplified everything we hoped ‘Suicide Squad’ would be. Take a bow Harley Quinn.
Margot Robbie made the character her own and now takes centre stage in Warner Bros’ latest DC Comics movie. The title of the film has been shortened to ‘Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey’. The full title, it has been suggested, is in some way partly responsible for the film’s poor box office receipts.
How you define poor is subjective. Domestically the film has made back almost $62 million of its estimated $84.5 million budget. Worldwide it’s racked up more than $145 million.
Why the North American market has been sluggish is something of a mystery. Admittedly ‘Birds of Prey’ does little to push the boundaries of cinema. But what it does, and does well, is tap into the same R-rated anti-hero genre that was re-defined by Deadpool in recent years.
Narrated by Harley Quinn, the film is centred around the character’s decline in status following her breakup with “Mr J” aka the Joker. Without the protection of the notorious villain, Harley finds herself with a big, fat target on her back. And every bad-ass she’s ever pissed off is out to get her.
In a bid to save her skin, Quinn takes on the job of recovering a lost diamond. The problem? The diamond has been hidden by a troubled adolescent in the most awkward of places. With the help of some unlikely allies, the group of misfits find themselves cornered and vastly outnumbered.
Margot Robbie excels once more as a character she clearly relishes playing. Everyone else in the film is really just making up the numbers – including, to a lesser degree, Ewan McGregor as the main antagonist, Roman Sionis. With a less than convincing American accent, the Scottish actor makes a decent attempt at bringing a volatile and explosive villain to life.
You won’t be rolling with laughter, you won’t be blown away by breathtaking special effects. You also won’t be bored. There are laughs to be had, there are eye watering moments of graphic violence delivered in a slapstick way. Birds of Prey is an action packed entertaining hour and forty-nine minutes of throwaway fun. There’s some decent character building and a the film is edited together in a non-linear way that works well.
Would I go out of my way to watch ‘Birds of Prey’ again? Unlikely. But I’m not sorry I’ve seen it.