Birds of Prey is a thrill ride with non-stop action, strong cinematography, bombastic score, and the ever charismatic Margot Robbie leading the way as Harley Quinn.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is directed by Cathy Yan and stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. The film takes place after the events of 2016’s Suicide Squad and is the eighth installment in the DC Extended Universe.
Birds of Prey put Harley Quinn at the forefront of the story as she deals with breaking up with the Joker. The following events put a target on her back as all of Gotham’s underworld sees her as unprotected and killable. At the top of it all is Black Mask, who is focused on killing the former Joker sidekick. The film also introduced new characters in Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya. Each of them finds their way into Harley Quinn’s crazy life as they ultimately come together to combat the Gotham underworld. If there is one word to describe Birds of Prey, it’s electric. From a bombastic score and soundtrack to the bloodiest violence of any recent DC adaption, the film does not hold back on any level.
Birds of Prey falls squarely on the shoulders of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. This can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse for the film. The plus side is that Margot Robbie is one of the most perfect castings the industry has seen. Her ability to completely embrace and embody the character is second to none in today’s superhero landscape. The downside is other characters do not get the screen-time they deserve. Black Canary and Huntress, while great in their roles, could have benefited with more screen time.
Speaking of Black Canary and Huntress, each of them shines in the film and brings a new element to the DCEU. Having more street-level heroes gives the DCEU a wide set of characters to use. Hopefully, it isn’t the last we see the two new DC heroines, as each has a lot more to offer. Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask quickly establishes himself as one of the best villains in the DCEU with an absolutely gruesome performance that fully leans into the film’s R-rating.
The true greatness of Birds of Prey comes through in the action sequences. It is no secret that Cathy Yan had help from John Wick director Chad Stahelski on a few of the action scenes. The result was kinetic and explosive sequences of Harley Quinn, Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya taking down dozens of Black Masks goons behind a strong soundtrack.
At times, Birds of Prey can feel like DC’s Deadpool. Narration is done by Harley Quinn straight to the audience, quick cuts in the film and lightning-fast pacing give the film a unique feel that sets it apart. While there could have been moments where levity and emotion should have overtaken comedy and humor, overall Birds of Prey works well in the tone it inhabits.
Birds of Prey feels like a true sequel to Suicide Squad while giving Harley Quinn her first solo film disguised under the female-led team-up. There are a lot more positives than negatives as incredible action sequences, hilarious moments and character development combine to create a thrilling ride.