Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
I love it when films take unexpected approaches and pull off what they were aiming for perfectly. We see so often films that try new techniques but can't really keep their footing and end up falling, never to rise again. Birds of Prey, however, wasn't afraid to think outside the box, its style shaking up the DCEU in all the best ways. In fact, I'd venture to say that this film is the best DCEU entry since Wonder Woman.
Birds of Prey (advertised as Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) follows a few different storylines before finally merging into one. First, we have our narrator Harley Quinn who has recently broken up with the Joker. She's feeling a bit down and has had some self-destructive tendencies. It's not until she's captured by Roman Sionis aka Black Mask that she snaps out of her depression and decides to take her life by the reins. Roman gives her a deal: capture Cassandra Cain and retrieve a priceless diamond for him and in return he'll place her under his protection. Second, we have Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress who is seeking revenge against Victor Zsasz for killing her family over the priceless diamond Roman Sionis is looking for. Third, Dinah Lance aka Black Canary is a secret informant to Detective Renee Montoya. Dinah is trying to find Cassandra in order to protect her while Renee is trying to capture Harley, find Cassandra, and build a case against Roman all at once. But with Harley in the center of it all, there's no predicting what will happen and that makes the experience all the more fun.
The main thing that I loved about the film was how it was organized. The film is like a two-hour dive into Harley's mind so of course things are a bit scattered in there. Some people might complain about the non-linear storytelling but I personally loved that approach. Harley's mind isn't linear so why would her storytelling be any different? And of course the brilliant moment when Harley is hit so hard that she hears a musical number just added to the wild and humorous nature of the film.
The film's R-rating was able to give the dark humor and no-holds barred action justice. The stunts were outstanding, especially the police station break-in and the final showdown. There's some moments of absolute insanity that certainly wouldn't happen in reality, but Harley doesn't live in reality, does she?
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I also loved two new additions to the film universe that we've only seen in the comics and games: Bruce the Hyena and Harley's Confetti Gun. You're probably wondering why I'm so excited about those two things. Come on, if you don't absolutely fall in love with Harley sharing a Twizzler with a hyena Lady and the Tramp-style then something's wrong. Also, the Confetti Gun is a fun little move in the Injustice 2 game so seeing that on the big screen made me giddy.
The only acting I can really brag on is Margot Robbie's return as Harley Quinn. Rosie Perez and Jurnee Smollett-Bell were fine but they weren't showstoppers by any means and there was barely any screentime for Mary Elizabeth Winstead but she had a nice setup for the future. I did like Chris Messina as Zsasz. That was some perfect casting right there although I wish we had been able to see more of his dark side instead of him just being Roman's lackey.
The only real issue I had with the film was Ewan McGregor's Black Mask. I both liked and disliked him. In the comics, Black Mask was known to have anger issues and acted on spontaneity. Those two aspects were performed wonderfully. The problem with him was that he didn't act like a crime boss. He acted more like a psychotic, vengeful interior designer with a real people problem. Black Mask is supposed to strike fear into people just by looking at them. Ewan just sicked Zsasz on them. So, yes, I was a little disappointed by that.
In conclusion, if you look past Black Mask and focus on Harley and how much fun Margot Robbie is clearly having, you'll have a good time. Sit back and relax and let the crazy in for a couple hours. I give the film a 3.5 out of 4.
© 2020 Nathan Jasper
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 07, 2020:
I've not seen this film, but sounds really interesting. I reckon I'd enjoy this film. Thanks for the review. :)