Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) Review

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez

Director: Cathy Yan

Review:

With the addition of Birds of Prey to the DCEU, the one thing that really stands out about this movie is that Warner Brothers desperately wanted this movie to be their Deadpool.  By giving it an R-rating and allowing the movie to be darker and cruder than previous attempts, the DCEU could lay claim to something that the MCU refuses to do because it would alienate younger audiences.  So, how did this strategy play out?  It’s not as strong as Deadpool, but Birds of Prey does enough things right to make it one of the stronger entries into the DCEU.  With Robbie doing another excellent job reprising her role and the movie’s ability to introduce new characters, Birds of Prey is a respectable and entertaining installment for the DCEU.

The film follows the events after Suicide Squad with Harley Quinn (Robbie) getting dumped by her boyfriend Joker.  After spiraling out of control and acting recklessly, Harley finds herself on the wrong end of many people’s hitlist, including the ruthless crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).  When Harley finds out that there are many people on the wrong side of his rage, they team up to protect themselves and free Gotham of this terror.  In a stunning turn of events, Birds of Prey is a rare example of a movie getting progressively getting better as time passes.  The first half of the movie is a drag as many of these new characters need to be introduced on top of Harley’s plot being established.  It really takes a lot of the momentum out of the story and spends too much time establishing itself instead getting to the point.  While some of these moments are important, I could do without the wacky and zany moments like Harley’s obsession with breakfast sandwiches.  In the later half of the movie, things start to pick up and the movie starts to hit its stride.  McGregor is phenomenal as the antagonist and is in contention for the best villain in the DCEU after this performance.  He’s incredibly charismatic and appears to pose a real threat to Harley and her team, which when done properly is the foundation for an incredible movie villain.  Outside of McGregor, multiple new characters have been introduced in a way where I could see them being mainstays in the DCEU like The Huntress (Winstead) and Black Canary (Smollett-Bell).  Each of these characters are well-developed and interesting while also leaving an opening to explore them in future movies.  Birds of Prey is a few moments away from being a truly great movie, and even though it feels longer than its 109 minute runtime, there’s enough quality moments to put it up against a fair amount of movies in the MCU.  It doesn’t look like the DCEU has quite found its footing or identity yet, but as more movies like Birds of Prey get released, I think it’s only a matter before they reach that level of quality.  By changing up the writing and making the movie more enjoyable and entertaining, Birds of Prey could’ve been the movie DC planned on releasing, but what they ended up with is more than respectable in its own right.

Overall, I expect to see many similar movies coming from the DCEU after watching Birds of Prey, and if they can tighten up a few areas it won’t be the end of the world.  Having a cornerstone of your franchise like Robbie is helpful and adding some more talented pieces is setting up the DCEU for long-term success.  For Yan’s first mainstream directed movie, she did a great job with what she was given and I hope she gets similar opportunities in the future.

Overall Score: 7/10

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