One Woman Show
Suicide Squad is the movie that started my review website and gave me the inspiration to share my opinion about movies with various individuals. It also happened to be one of the worst movies I’ve seen and so any sequel or follow-up to that film would always be under scrutiny to me. Birds of Prey is certainly an enjoyable movie and way better than Suicide Squad but it also lacks any originality and identity to it. There is quite a bit to like in this female driven ensemble, but the parts are definitely greater than the whole.
Harley Quinn has broken up with the Joker, and she is dealing with the aftermath both emotionally and being on the run from people who want to kill her now that the Joker’s protection is gone. At the center of this is Roman Sionis (Black Mask) who seeks to kill Harley for all the wrongs she has done to him. When Harley gets wrapped up in yet another conflict involving a stolen diamond, she must band together and escape danger.
Easily the best part of Suicide Squad was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and Robbie is once again the scene stealer and dynamic anti-hero this movie needs to succeed. The movie wisely doesn’t skip over Harley’s emotional breakup with the Joker, and that leads to some great scenes both creative and character building. There is also a stronger emphasis on Harley’s psychiatry skills, making her seem much smarter and more interesting than she was previously. Robbie plays up the character fantastically, imbuing Harley with the same craziness, intrigue, intelligence, and all around fun that this movie needs to have for its lead character. She clearly is the star of this show.
That is both the movie’s greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. This is Harley Quinn’s movie no matter what the first title may tell you. We don’t get time with the other members of the Birds of Prey including Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya. When the movie does get around to the group dynamic in the last act of the film, the witty banter between the group is entertaining and fun, but it comes at the end of a movie where we haven’t learned much about these characters. From what I did see of these characters, I was at least intrigued by what they could offer but it wasn’t enough to elevate the movie to where I think they wanted it to.
Ewan McGreggor’s Roman Sionis falls in the same boat, with McGreggor chewing up a lot of the scenery and relishing in the role of being a villain who is truly despicable. I wished I had seen more of him, but from what I was given I was a fan of this zany take on an established Batman villain. This movie needed a lot more focus on him and the conflict he has with Harley rather than the overarching team up the movie is moving toward.
The movie’s plot is scattered around and interchanges between backstories and present day. It’s sometimes hard to keep track of what is going on in the present tense of the story and what is going on in the past. It may be an attempt to show the disconnected state of mind of Harley, but it leads to a lot of confusion and lack of focus. Harley narrates the entire story showing even further that this is more of her movie than anyone else’s.
The movie tries to pull a Deadpool on us and have Harley connect with a child, but it doesn’t hit home in the same way as before. Harley is supposed to be a crazed villain, the Joker’s right hand girl, a murdering maniac, and yet they try to humanize her with this mother-daughter connection. It comes across as more forced and unoriginal rather than an organic part of the plot.
The action sequences are unique enough to make this movie stand out, with the hard R rating allowing for the action to be unhinged. There are a lot of wide shots for you to see everything going on, and the brutality with which they are fighting is exciting. It all comes together in the last act where we get to see our protagonists fight off a bunch of goons. It also possesses a lot of vibrant colors allowing the scenes to pop off the screen and add a new engagement to the sequences.
But at the end of the day, this movie wasn’t as interesting as people may have wanted it to be. It lacks a general focus of what it wants to be by putting all of its eggs into developing Harley Quinn. Granted, she is a character worth investing in but the overarching conflict and the path getting there isn’t’ that interesting or sensical.
I wasn’t expecting much from Birds of Prey but I am surprised at the direction they took with Harley Quinn and the action sequences. These are the legs on which this movie stands on and for that alone, it makes for a stronger DCEU entry than we have gotten in the past. But if you are looking for something more new, vibrant, and different from the comic book genre then I advise you look elsewhere for now.