Category : Movie Review
Director: Cathy Yan
Coming in stronger than expectations dictated shouldn’t have been that hard for Harley Quinn, Birds of Prey, The Fantabulous Whatnot of Emancipation of One Joker Lady, whatever they finally decide to stick with calling it; DC has, in many ways, failed to deliver on its promises to provide kick ass entertainment, while Marvel has been declared the uncontested king. Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Aquaman, Shazam; I suppose they haven’t all been disasters, I have some favorites among the group, and there are plenty more to come over the next few years, so I guess it’s time to buckle in and enjoy. Because, although they aren’t all gems, we still love going to the theatre to see comic book celebrities come to life, and our desire to like Birds of Prey is no exception; that the movie doesn’t exactly deserve our applause won’t stop some from clapping anyway.
Since her breakup with The Clown Prince of Crime, Harley Quinn has had it rough. She & Mr. J aren’t together any more, and so she doesn’t have a partner to blow things up with, an outlet for her crazed desire to be lewd, crude, and downright rude. Plus, when the neighborhood thugs find out that she’s not protected by a supercriminal any more, Harley learns that a lot of very bad people have some very serious grudges against her. Simply staying alive is going to be a workout, but then new complications enter the picture, when a priceless diamond is found by the gangster Roman Sionis, only to be stolen by the child thief Cassandra Cain. Now everyone hunts for Cain: Quinn, Black Mask, Black Canary, Renee Montoya, Victor Zsasz, and the mysterious Huntress. Harley will have to decide where her loyalties lie, and who exactly deserves a gruesome death.
Birds of Prey is on par with Suicide Squad, which means it’s a semi-enjoyable mess. Who enjoys it will up for discussion, with some fan boys mocking and some fan girls championing, which leaves most of us somewhere in the muddled middle. Positives first, because good news before bad, and then we’ll get into what definitely didn’t work. Perhaps the best piece of the puzzle was the action, which I don’t think I would have predicted. When so many other fight scenes flail about until audiences are kinda dizzy and mostly done, Yan’s action is crisp, clear, purposeful, and deliberate, so that we can feel every kick, whack, wham, and pow. You can actually track the pain and the take downs, which you should be able to say about any movie’s brawls, but you really can’t, so well done to a film that wasn’t afraid to give the choreography some attention. As far as the actors go, I thought McGregor stood out as a unique villain, so much more interesting then, say, Bane. Elizabeth Winstead also did a stand up job, serving us some surprising laughs, and giving us a real reason to root for her character.
And that about wraps up the accolades; on to the bad news. The rest of the film, at least when people weren’t fighting or when we weren’t focused on the revenge story arc, was rather boring and far too cluttered with names, attacks, backgrounds, asides, flashes in time, and jokes that didn’t work. I would call it a mess, but the energy was too flat for that word, it wasn’t as messy as it was uninspired, and at times just plain dull. The level of talent called upon to support the project was simply too low; Robbie is obviously a star but she was downright weird, Smollett isn’t a good actress and her Canary Call was dumb, there’s a reason Rosie Perez isn’t famous beyond White Men Can’t Jump, and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain will need about another five years of lessons before she’s ready to belong on a stage this big. Birds of Prey was simply too inconsistent, not funny, often bizarre, and never seemed impacting enough to matter, not like some comic book capers that have come before, when you just have to see them because they’re that important to pop culture and to a cinematic universe. DC still has some proving to do; I think Wonder Woman 1984 might be a step in that direction, and I also predict that it’ll make this movie clearly look like a failed attempt.
My rating: ☆ ☆