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Great turn from Margot Robbie

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

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (15)
Running time 1hr 49 min
Rating ****

A MANIC and fast-paced action funfest matched by the undeniable charisma of its protagonist, Birds of Prey is Harley Quinn’s movie, and Margot Robbie’s delightful portrayal is an absolute treat to behold. It might as well be named after its central character; a choice DC should’ve made
considering Quinn’s popular appeal and the film’s disappointing box office numbers. Despite this, Robbie leads the cast of colourful characters through DC’s most fun and (I dare say) best movie.

The story centres on Quinn, heartbroken after her break-up with the villainous Joker, trying to cope with being single in the best ways she can, mostly drunken escapades of chaos and violence. However, once one of Gotham’s crime lords discovers Harley’s relationship status, he decides to get his revenge as he no longer fears the Joker’s wrath.

The crime lord is Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, a campy narcissistic sadist, played with hateable glee by Ewan McGregor, who is a fitting and capable antagonist to Robbie’s Quinn. The rest of the main cast become suitable supporters for this central conflict, as the titular Birds of Prey settle their differences and fight against Sionis to save a young girl from his clutches.

The Birds of Prey Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) are all intriguing and fun characters, but none of them even come close to matching Robbie’s performance. Quinn is infinitely more interesting and likable than her iteration in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Her violent insanity is lovable and not over-exaggerated and clichéd. It’s one of the best comic book castings of all time and Robbie’s status as one of the film’s producers confirms her love for all things Harley.

Cathy Yan’s direction is superb; she manages to tailor Robbie’s witty narration to stylish and cartoonish visuals, all while never losing the film’s relation to reality. It’s refreshing to see a DC that isn’t weighed down by the foreboding influence of Nolan’s superb Batman trilogy, as Birds of Prey doesn’t try to establish a tone of gritty darkness. The film doesn’t try to copy Marvel’s formula either. It revels in its adult themes while being just as fun as any Marvel flick. This film really does feel like a blueprint DC should follow because of this, but its sadly doubtful considering its box office.

The film isn’t perfect by any means. The dialogue can sometimes be a bit too on the nose, but most of the time it feels natural. The performances of the supporting cast can be a little wooden too, but I feel that is only because of Robbie and McGregor’s great turns as the two leads.

My hopes weren’t high for Birds of Prey. I don’t share the disdaining view most critics have of Suicide Squad, but I wasn’t too bothered about experiencing round 2. However, Birds of Prey truly surprised me. I left the cinema smiling and refreshed, although slightly saddened by its lack of success – although, the screening I was in was virtually full, so maybe there is hope for Harley Quinn yet.

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