If you didn’t see 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which featured the debut of Margot Robbie’s portrayal of DC Comics character Harley Quinn, don’t worry, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” has you covered.
Easily the best part of the earlier film, Harley does a quick recap through adorable animation of who she is and how she got here at the start of the movie.
She and Joker split, and she needs to figure out her next chapter. When she confirms her new relationship status to the entire city of Gotham, she finds herself on the business end of many guns, bombs and arrows from the folks she’s angered over the years and, since she’s no longer Joker’s girl, they feel free to take her out.
With a lot of glee and some sick fighting moves that break a lot of bones, Harley always seems to find her way out. That is until Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask, played by an Americanized and skeezy Ewan McGregor, nabs her and right before his goons start to peel her face off (yep), she makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Harley agrees to track down Sionis’ missing giant diamond that holds the key to the mythically large fortune. The rock was stolen by Cassandra Cain, the light-fingered foster kid played by Ella Jay Basco who winds up in the police station.
So Harley sets off to find the kid. When she does, it’s a bit harder than she anticipated as it seems that everyone is either after her or Cassandra, or sometimes both.
Throughout the film we learn a little bit about Sionis’ lounge singer, Dinah Lance a.k.a The Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Gotham’s spurned detective Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez, and a shadowy figure with a crossbow, The Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
This is Harley’s movie, full stop (which is probably why Warner Bros. decided to add her name to the official title after opening weekend). While we are introduced to origins of the Birds of Prey girl gang slowly throughout, it’s Harley we’re all here to see, and it really is wonderful to see Robbie fully embrace the deranged anti-heroine as she roller skates her way through a throng of faceless henchmen.
The film is so starkly different from a lot of DC films, it’s not dark or brooding, or in any way too serious. “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” doesn’t make anything feel too forced and instead trucks along in a loud and brightly colored world of violence, mayhem and women taking their power back and saving themselves instead of waiting to be rescued.
In stark contrast to many of its predecessors in the DC Extended Universe, it is not beholden to the male gaze of female characters, and it highlights them fully and develops Harley into something fun to watch. While you get a good look at each character, Huntress felt a little underdeveloped which could have been because of her later full introduction in the film. But it’s when she, Harley, Canary, Cassandra and Rene all come together that the movie really clicks.
Sure, they may rely a bit too heavily on the fight choreography, and some of the fights go on a tad longer than is really necessary, but the look and the feel of the film as a whole is still quite the ride.