DC has been on a bit of a winning streak as of late. Aside from Justice League’s critical lashing, DC has been pumping out hit after hit since 2017. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam, and Joker have received critical praise and good box office scores. And now, in 2020, the offspring to their arguably most slammed film, Suicide Squad, comes out in the form “Birds of Prey“… or if the trailers and posters are to be quoted, “Birds of Prey and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn.”
Nearly four years after Suicide Squad, does Birds of Prey redeem it? It’s… complicated.
The movie star Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, recently coming out of a harsh break-up with Joker. She makes it known publicly, essentially revoking her immunity she had beforehand (if everyone’s scared of your boyfriend, they’re not going to mess with you obviously). Now, due to the number of people she angered before, she has to take on the world, particularly one known as Black Mask (Ewan Mcgregor).
You might think that would be enough for the story. Well not to the writers, because there’s another story going on about a diamond (that contains bank codes?) that Harley needs to get to earn Black Mask’s favor and not be hunted. The other birds of prey are trying to get it as well, and then a girl named Cassie swallows it. If you’re getting confused then you may not want to see this movie.
This movie tries really hard to be another Deadpool 2, with the foul-mouthed but charismatic lead taking a parental role to troubled youth. But where Deadpool 2 succeeds over Birds of Prey is by having the lead character actually complete their arc. Deadpool’s arc in Deadpool 2 is to become a parent, which he ultimately does. Harley’s arc in Birds of Prey is to be more independent which, without wishing to spoil, she doesn’t really accomplish at the end. This movie has to push the “Birds of Prey” part of the title, which leads to other characters having to be there, such as the underwhelming Renee Montoya, the alright Black Canary, and the admittedly very fun Huntress.
That’s not to say this movie is terrible. It’s still plenty enjoyable. Harley Quinn and Black Mask are the best characters in the movie, and lo and behold, they’re the characters that are mostly focused on. For the most part, it works. There are also plenty of pretty fun action sequences, the best of which focus on, you guessed it, Harley. Those are helped by Johnathan Esuebio and Jon Valera, two stunts and fight coordinators behind the John Wick films, being brought in to help give the sequences a bit more punch (no pun intended).
In an interview with Chris Crawford, a local comic book expert, he had this to say about the movie. “It was definitely different. The action sequences made up for the lack of story, especially cause they brought in one of the guys who did John Wick, but it was just… different.”
And that’s the best way to put it. It’s an odd movie, but an enjoyable one. This isn’t the best DC movie so far (Shazam is still the best by a wide margin), but this is a good movie for what it does.
Birds of Prey is still in theaters and holds a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.