The first big comic book movie of 2020 is here in Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn). The film is set in the current DCEU and shows the return of Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn. Harley has broken up with The Joker and now the Gotham underworld is coming after her to get some payback for all the wrongs she has done them. With all of that going on, Roman Sionis is trying to acquire a diamond of immense value that could make him the top crime boss in the city. There’s just one problem, its in the possession of Cassandra Cain, played by Ella Jay Basco (who has no idea what its worth) and its up to Renee Montoya, Huntress, Black Canary and Harley to protect her.
My first take away from this movie is that it is absolutely fun. This is a story about a team of ass kickers that delivers from start to finish. Right from the very beginning, Harley breaks the forth wall to catch the audience up on whats been happening with her since the events of Suicide Squad. Which absolutely works for those who have not seen the film or totally forgot about it. Besides the fourth wall breaking shenanigans, there is so much comedy with all of the other characters. Writer Christina Hodson finds a way to showcase the humor while also giving them their moments of total badassery. Yes most of this film is from Harley’s perspective but there are times when it shifts to the other characters, similar to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. She also finds a way to craft a fun and action packed story that could very well be the best of the DCEU.
Director Cathy Yan takes the script and delivers an incredibly entertaining film that is also brilliantly acted. Robbie once again shines in the roll of Harley, but there are three major standouts here: Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Ewan McGregor. Perez is fantastic as Renee Montoya and acts as the serious one while still having fun in the process. She is a cop who has watched a lot of police movies and television from the 80’s and it shows. Between her attitude and one liners, Perez is the perfect embodiment of Montoya. This film also sees the big screen debut of Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell and she is the soul of the film. Smollett-Bell delivers a fun and conflicting performance where she struggles with making the easy choice or the right choice. She is also the only character in the film that has powers. Her high pitched scream can deliver powerful sonic blasts that can shatter glass and leave opponents disoriented. Canary also has a mysterious past that ties into another member of the team in an interesting way. Finally that leads to Ewan McGregor, who hams up every second of screen time that may go down as the best bad guy in the DCEU. McGregor ends up delivering some of the best jokes of movie and looks like he is having a total blast with the other actors and the story. While every actor gives great performances, Yan brings the best out of these three and it shows.
If there are any negative takeaways from this film it’s these two: Cassandra Cain, while being a fun character, is a: wildly out of character from her book counterpart and b: nothing but a macguffin. She is solely there to move the plot along and serve as a point that Harley can change. While that is fine, in this film the character seems to be put on the backburner and the story suffers a bit from it. The second negative with this movie deals with a scene involving murder and torture. It’s there to drive more jokes home to the audience but it’s also there to showcase how ruthless Sionis is and how he will do whatever it takes to be number one. I won’t go into too much detail but the nature of the scene is very graphic and might make some uncomfortable.
Besides these two negatives, Birds Of Prey is an absolute blast of a movie. It is not only a great comic book movie, but just a fun movie in which the audience can sit back, relax and turn their brain off for a bit while shoving popcorn in their faces. At the end of the day, isn’t this what these movies and going to the theater is all about?
4.5 Giant Harley Mallets out of 5!