Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey Review
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a wild ride through the mind of a deranged Psychotherapist turned Queen of Crime. High octane violence meets off-kilter comedy in this pseudo sequel to Suicide Squad that follows Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) as she gets over her breakup with the Joker. She cuts her hair, throws knives at photos of him, monologues to the camera and blows many, many things up! Her character is dialled up to 11 and so is the world around her. We see it all through her crazy eyes. Expect fireworks for explosions and acidic neon colours. Not all this works, some things are nailed, most things hit the mark while other parts are not even close.
After she announces her breakup with Joker in the most explosive way possible, Harley has a target on her back, leading to Gotham PD detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and the creepy duo of Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and Victor Szasz (Chris Messina) hunting her down. They are all on the lookout for the Bertinelli Diamond that holds the code to a family fortune (completely over the top? You bet!) and of course Harley stumbles upon this along with Cassandra Cain (Elly Basco) and they have no one else to turn to but each other so a sort of alliance is formed, leading to a domino style narrative with many, many characters and pieces having to fall into place. The opening 45 minutes is a whistle stop tour as all powerful narrator Harley forgets parts of the plot and jumps back in time to put all these dominos in place. It is confusing at times and took a lot of concentration to keep track of this highly convoluted plot but some incredible action set pieces as well as ludicrous situations and jokes kept it entertaining enough for anyone to become invested.
Cathy Yan (Director) whacks the colour palette into the stratosphere: the onscreen character names, big explosions, outfits, smoke. You name it, its neon! It is amazing to breathe in and works, it feels like a window into Harley’s mind and how she views the world. It puts a sheen on everything and explains her extremely positive outlook. The action scenes are the real highlight, its John Wick meets neon meets a circus sledgehammer. The Gotham PD “gunfight” really stands out for me and the originality of the final fight scene is so refreshing and fun to see in such a saturated market of action films.
The cast for this is wonderful, Margot Robbie is amazing as the crazed Harley with heaps of attitude as well as the tell-tale voice that we associate with her. However, Ewan McGregor stole the show for me as the antagonist, he was so creepy and dark as a character but also very funny at points. The way he skipped with glee after viciously killing someone was chilling but also ludicrous all at the same time. He really worked and had a very close relationship with his enforcer Victor Szasz. Chris Messina did not do anything exactly special but simply played his role. His generic creepy enforcer act was stereotypical but fit well. The supporting cast of Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell) and The Huntress (Mary Winstead) were great and a lot of fun but did not get a lot of screen time, it will be interesting to see where these characters go in the inevitable sequel.
This film is a lot of fun with amazing visuals, great fight scenes and a strong cast. But the plot is generic and while the film does seem to poke fun at itself for it, there is nothing massively new in there. This unoriginal plot is told in a highly confusing way that will leave your head spinning after the first hour but if you can get through that then the second hour is well worth the due diligence you have to do for the first.