Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Director: Cathy Yan
Writer: Christina Hodson
Sequel to (kinda): Suicide Squad
Based on: Birds of Prey by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, Chuck Dixon and Harley Quinn by Paul Dini, Bruce Timm
Cast: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ella Jay Basco, Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, Ali Wong
Part of: DC movies
Seen on: 7.2.2020
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was just broken up with and she’s not dealing all too well with the Joker’s rejection. As she parties her way through the heartache, she keeps the break-up under wraps, at least for a while. When she finally is able to admit to the break-up herself, she decides that a public statement is in order. What she didn’t consider, though, is that it would mean that half of Gotham city believes her to be an easy target now. Very quickly, Harley finds herself in the crosshairs of pretty much everybody, above all Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). To save her own skin, Harley gets involved with the search for a diamond for Sionis and things get even more complicated from there.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is an absolutely fantastic film. It’s funny, has great characters, awesome action and looks gorgeous. It immediately became one of my favorite superhero movies.
Birds of Prey really gets it right in so many ways. Most importantly, it has a great understanding of who its characters are and celebrates the women at the center of the film, most of all Harley Quinn. The other women – Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), and Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) – do get less attention, but that just means that there is more to explore with them in the sequel(s) this film hopefully get. In any case, the casting is as great as the writing, bringing the characters to life. Robbie as Harley is exquisite.
The film has such a strong sense of humor. It’s wild and a little unpredictable and there is an anarchic streak to it that fits Harley very well. It also goes hand in hand with a wonderful neon-pop-colored aesthetic that is a very nice counterweight to the superserious, dark DC movies we have gotten so far and makes the film extra fresh. It’s also part of an absolutely queer look and feel of the film – starting with the acknowledgement in the first few minutes that Harley is bi, with Renee being openly gay and getting an ex-girlfriend (Ali Wong) and Helena’s entire presence down to the queer-coding of Sionis and his right hand man Zsasz (Chris Messina) (that makes an excellent point that misogyny isn’t reserved for straight men). Everybody is queer here.
Oh, and the action scenes were so damn fantastic. Great choreographies, excellent cinematography, pitch-perfect pacing. They are so full of lovely details – from the “boomerang baseball bat” to the hair tie – that I can see myself watching them over and over again and discovering new things every time. The film is a little gruesome sometimes, which I personally didn’t mind, but it might make other people flinch.
My expectations were high for the film, but it easily surpassed them. I left the cinema entirely happy and satisfied and the feeling that it had been a while that I was this entertained. I really have no complaints and I hope that Yan and Hodson are busy with more films like it.