Long associated with the Clown Prince of Crime, iconic supervillainess Harley Quinn returns on her own in DC’s newest film, “Birds of Prey.”
After breaking up with the Joker, Harley must deal with the repercussions of all of the past crimes she committed under the Joker’s protection, and must survive the fury of all of her victims, particularly disinherited gangster Roman Sionis.
To save herself, Harley agrees to recover a valuable diamond stolen from Sionis, only to find that teenage pickpocket Cassandra Cain has stolen and subsequently swallowed the gem.
Harley embarks on a personal mission to help save Cassandra from Sionis’ murderous clutches, but not before gaining the help of three powerful allies: vengeful assassin Huntress, disillusioned cop Renee Montoya and superpowered songstress Black Canary. Forced to cooperate, the unlikely group must work together to defeat Sionis and his criminal army.
Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn is instantly iconic. Far from her eye-candy portrayal in “Suicide Squad,” Harley is witty, likable and maniacal, with more than just a dash of violence mixed in.
Robbie portrays Harley with just enough emotion while retaining Harley’s signature craziness, creating a depiction of the Clown Princess of Crime that is surprisingly realistic.
Another excellent performance comes from Ewan McGregor, whose bone-chilling yet humorous depiction of gangster Roman Sionis amuses and terrifies. McGregor is able to capture Sionis’ madness, placing him as a foil to Harley; however, instead of Harley’s quirkiness, Sionis’ insanity is accompanied by horrifying brutality, especially when he is shown peeling the faces off of an opposing crime family.
The action in “Birds of Prey” is heavily stylized, drawing comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s films and the Deadpool movies. Throughout the film, Harley and her “Birds of Prey” flip, jump, kick and batter their way through wave after wave of nameless goons, with the utmost slickness and smoothness.
The film, being R-rated, does not shy away from violence and gore. In several scenes, Harley smashes the teeth out of a henchman’s face, and in another Huntress brutally murders a mob boss with an arrow to the throat. The most brutal death has to be Sionis’, with the gangster exploding into a cloud of blood after a grenade is placed in his pocket by Cassandra.
However, the film is not perfect. Some of the many jokes don’t land, and the soundtrack screams “girl power” without any subtlety or nuance to its feminist messages.
“Birds of Prey” is the most solid offering that DC has put out since 2019’s Shazam, and is well worth a watch.
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