I’m just going to start right off the bat and say I loved this movie. It was funny, violent, psychotic, and fresh. The 2020 film, directed by Cathy Yan, is a pseudo sequel/spin-off from the DC team up movie Suicide Squad. There were a lot of things that fans hated from Suicide Squad, but one agreement most audience members had was Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. So why not give her her own movie, or at the very least a movie starring her and five other DC femme fatales. I will say, as far as this movie being called ‘Birds of Prey’… it wasn’t; it is a Harley Quinn solo movie. But also who really expected anything less from all the promotional material featuring the Clown Princess in front and center while the rest of the characters were in the background.
To be fully transparent, when I mentioned that most people loved Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad… I wasn’t one of them. I have nothing against the actress, but thought it was a weird interpretation for the character from the perspective of a comic book fan. It just felt like the director didn’t know what to do with her. However now, after Birds of Prey, I can cast aside any doubts. Harley Quinn found her voice and it kicked ass. The movie takes place after Harley and The Joker Break up so the plot mainly revolves around her trying to find herself, so the transition fits. Plus the introduction actually makes up for her weird placement within Suicide Squad so I appreciated the difference. The rest of the cast actually felt like real people. Rosee Perez, although I believe too old for the role, played a good Montoya and drunk cop that gets shit on by the badge she tries to hard to defend. Mary Elizebeth Winstead, as The Huntress with a blood vengeance probably didn’t get enough screen time but towards the end shined. Ella Jay Basco, as the foul mouthed kid in a harsh world, will win over audiences. But personally my favorite character aside from Harley was Black Canary, played by Jurnnee Smollett-Bell. She was the only other person to have some real character development. I would love to see her in the future of the DC universe, and possibly see what she could do with a Green Arrow character.
All of these women on screen, it had to be a feminist agenda shoved down our throat right?! Just so we are all clear I’m making fun of incels… but I do think there is a difference between this film and others starring female heroes. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, although I liked both, had something to prove. they were not real women. But the characters in Birds of Prey were. When we got out of the theater my girlfriend said “I like that it wasn’t a movie for feminists but a movie for women” And I feel like that is the truth. The problem with female super heroes up to this point are the fact they are metaphors. The fact a woman can be just as powerful, if not more than a man, but they don’t have to face real issues women do. The women in Birds of Prey are actually robbed of their accomplishments and targeted for having vaginas. They get beaten, date raped, and made fun of for dating psycho boyfriends. And the best part was that the plot was separated from those facts. The overall story really had nothing to do with the fact they were women so the plot could be enjoyed separate from those realistic examples portrayed in the film. Plus the plot wasn’t about how all men are bad, just the bad ones. And dude was the main antagonist bad.
So in a movie full of anti-heros, you have to have a good villian right? Well this movie delivered. Ewan McGregor plays Roman Sionis (a.k.a Black Mask). I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I first heard of the decision to include this character, but that is mainly because I never thought Black Mask was that great in the comics to begin with. But Ewan really made him worth the screen time. He is a psychopath, and not the fake cartoonish psycho like Jared Leto’s Joker, but a real one. His acting is incredible and it kind of made me question Ewan’s real life personality. I can’t get into too much details without spoiling but he really brought a dark cloud to the film.
DC is doing some really weird shit in a time that is the most beneficial for it. After a rocky start from Zach Snyder, they tried too hard to copy Marvel and that obviously didn’t work. The studio seems to be realizing that dark and dirty makes the cash. Joker won awards for it’s individual story. Wonder Woman showed the dark reality of war. Shazam was indering and fun but also pretty violent when it came to the seven deadly sins. Aquaman was…. forgettable. Fun and violent with an earned R Rating should be the future of DC in my opinion, or at the very least any movie featuring Gotham. The violence was intense but not over the top. The swear words weren’t highlighted but organic. And also… Harley likes cocaine! This was the Gotham I personally love. If the future of the Batman universe needs a tempo, this is it. It may not be for everyone, but who the fuck cares. Birds of Prey survives The Snappening because I honestly feel this wasn’t a movie made for a demographic or just to make money. They weren’t trying to be anyone or mimic a success. They made a movie that you can tell has heart, knowledge, and genuine artistic value.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith