If you’re looking for a movie about Black Canary or Huntress, you’re going to be disappointed. Despite being titled Birds of Prey, this is all about Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Birds of Prey beautifully blends excellent action choreography with laugh out loud comedy. If you’re a fan of Harley Quinn, then this is a must-see film.
Similar to James Wan’s Aquaman, this film felt like it was stripped straight out of the comic books. This is a near perfect adaptation that remains faithful to Harley’s character in the comics. The story of the film is just as frantic as the lead character. Everything is told from Harley’s point of view as she narrates a solid chunk of the film’s events via flashbacks. The tone of the film felt very much like Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
What were my favorite moments from Birds of Prey? Let’s take a look.
Margot Robbie & Cathy Yan Shine
Margot Robbie’s performance in Birds of Prey was better than ever. The casting of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is only equal to Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. However, unlike the dreadful Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie brings the emotional weight in a fully fleshed out performance. Watching Harley fight against her own personal battle of self-fulfilling prophecy was just as tragic as it was hilarious. None of this would have been accomplished without the uber-talented Margot Robbie.
Did some of Margot Robbie’s lines feel forced? Of course. But Margot is so charming throughout the film that you simply stop caring. We see Harley Quinn at her worst through the first and second acts. Some of the best scenes in the film came during the dialogue between Harley and Black Canary. Harley confronting her mental health problems and admitting her loneliness to others packed an emotional left-hook. Despite being batshit crazy (pun intended), I continuously hoped for Harley to finally confront her demons and come out victorious.
Cathy Yan deserves so much credit here as well.
WB’s decision to take a break from making Justice League movies and rather focusing on director driven films was an extremely smart decision. A bit of an unknown director, I admittedly was a bit concerned if Cathy yan truly understood the Harley Quinn character. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although the writing wasn’t great, Cathy Yan’s control of the film made Margot Robbie’s brilliance shine. Cathy Yan should absolutely be welcomed back with open arms for the sequel.
Cathy Yan left her mark very early on in the film. Margot Robbie blowing up Ace Chemicals was as symbolic as it gets. Not only was Harley Quinn publicly ending her relationship Joker, but Cathy Yen was letting everyone know that there is no going back for the DCEU. Sorry Zack Snyder fans. This was a significant improvement on the Harley Quinn character. Margot Robbie gives a much better performance compared to Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn and Cathy Yan are here to stay.
The best action sequences since Winter Soldier
First and foremost, this is John Wick level fighting. Each fight scene is choreographed extremely well. The audience can clearly see what’s happening on screen in every fight. Half-way through the film I had to make sure I wasn’t watching a Hong Kong action film like Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The fight scenes were all top notch.
For a good chunk of the film, we see Harley narrate the plot while moving action scene to action scene. The final action sequence features some of the best fight choreography you’ll ever see in a comic book film. If you’ve watched the Harley Quinn animated series on the DC Universe, this is as close as could hope for in a live-action film.
Bones break, bowling balls get thrown at private parts and necks snap in glorious fashion.
The fighting gets just as crazy as Harley Quinn and I loved how the film made jabs at itself. In the final action scene, Harley brings out a pair of roller skates from seemingly out of nowhere. Huntress pointing out the ridiculousness and randomness of her skates to the audience was laugh out loud, hilarious. Watching Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya take down foe after foe during the final act was memorable and filled with adrenaline.
Some other notable fight scenes included Harley Quinn taking down an entire police station of cops. With slow motion kicks and punches, this scene was so incredibly fun. Like I mentioned earlier, I felt like watching an episode of Looney Tunes on cocaine. Speaking of, we see Harley Quinn and her trust-worthy baseball bat go to town on some bad guys after Harley digests cocaine by accident in an evidence room. This was simply one of the most brutal action scenes in comic book film history. Harley Quinn wields a baseball bat like Steve Rogers does with his shield. No one should ever think of Harley Quinn as a sidekick after that performance.
Ewan McGregor Stands Out as Black Mask
DC Comics has always been about the villains and Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask delivered. McGregor and his buddy Victor Zsasz were as crazy and unpredictable as Joker and Harley Quinn. McGregor plays the slimy Roman Sionis as great as anyone possibly could. These are two narcissistic villains who kill for fun and enjoyment. In fact, we don’t actually see Sionis put on the infamous mask until the very end of the film.
Simply put, Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask was just as cartoonish as Harley Quinn. Victor Zsasz’s fondness for face peeling and deep feelings for Roman was also a nice touch. These two really fed off each other in every scene together. Victor Zsas’s character was insanely obsessive with Roman throughout the film. Roman’s desire for control and Zsasz’s craziness made them one heck of a villainous duo.
Although the actions scenes were incredibly memorable, many of my favorite scenes included Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. Black Mask nearly butchers a customer because he thought she was laughing at him at his club. Watching Zsasz peel off the faces of his victims and Roman complain about a snot bubble was both hilarious and disturbing. Prior to Harley Quinn being butchered by Zsasz during the second act, we see Black Mask pull up a chair with some popcorn to watch. These two were really well done.
My Final Review
Birds of Prey beautifully blends incredible action sequences with bursting comedy. The action, characters and comedy is so well done that you quickly forget the issues with the writing or the non-linear story. The utter chaos that ensues during the second and third acts is pure bliss. I fully recommend this film to anyone who loves DC Comics or the Harley Quinn character. If you want to have a fun time, make sure to check out Birds of Prey.
My Grade: 8.5/10
The DCEU Franchise Moving Forward
By the time the credits hit the screen, a shocker in Birds of Prey came from the realization that Harley Quinn was nothing more than the force of them coming together as a team. We see much of the film dealing with Harley Quinn always needing a master or boyfriend. Harley has always struggled being on her own. Watching her drive away from the Birds of Prey team and happily forming her own solo adventures with Cassandra Cain was a fantastic way to end the film.
How Birds of Prey performs in the box office will likely dictate whether or not Gotham City Sirens returns to development.
We know that Margot Robbie will be returning as Harley Quinn in the near future. James Gunn’s sequel The Suicide Squad will be coming out in 2021 and Robbie has been confirmed to return. If subsequent Harley Quinn films will be utilized to set up others, then I would like to official make my vote for Poison Ivy. Gotham City Sirens was recently put on hold, but it’s time for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to finally meet. If you’ve watched the Harley Quinn animated series, then you’d know how much potential those two would share on the big screen.
Cassandra Cain AKA Batgirl being cast in Birds of Prey was also an interesting decision. This new take on the character was enjoyable and she clearly brought out the best in Harley Quinn. We never saw the origin of Cassandra Cain, so there are plenty of directions that WB can take her. Cassandra Cain saves Commissioner Gordon’s life in “No Man’s Land” and is eventually taken in by Bruce Wayne and given the responsibility of Batgirl. Could “No Man’s Land” be shown in an upcoming sequel?
What about the Joker?
First and foremost, the decision to make Birds of Prey solely about Harley Quinn worked much better than I had initially expected. After killing Black Mask and finally thriving on her own, we can be certain that Joker and Harley Quinn will eventually meet in the very near future. Harley is now officially a force to be reckoned with. Leto’s status is still unknown at this point and the Joker’s presence will likely not be found in Matt Reeve’s The Batman.
My Updated DCEU Power Rankings
- Wonder Woman
- Man of Steel
- Birds of Prey
- Batman vs Superman
- Justice League
- Suicide Squad