‘Birds of Prey’ review: Girls, guts and glory

‘Birds of Prey’: Margot Robbie is a knockout as Harley Quinn

‘Birds of Prey’: Margot Robbie is a knockout as Harley Quinn   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The film entirely relies on flash, style and suave action, but Margot Robbie’s mesmerising act as Harley Quinn makes this an entertaining watch

When Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wants another pet, that is including her tutu-clad, one-eyed taxidermied beaver, she picks a hyena from an exotic animal shop. Freshly single, after being dumped by her psychotic paramour, Mr J aka the Joker, Quinn needs closure. What better way to do that, than to annihilate the spot where their love proclaimed? So she drives a truck into Ace Chemicals, the plant where she pledged her love to him. In all her yesteryear Hollywood pin-up twang, smacking chewing gum with a deranged smile, Quinn is quite obviously certifiable. Without Joker’s protection, her consequence-free days are over and everyone she’s ever wronged is out for their pound of flesh.

At the centre of it all is a diamond, encrypted with a key to more riches than anyone could possibly imagine. The jewel is in the hands — actually inside the guts — of a young pickpocket, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) recruits Quinn to retrieve the diamond in lieu of her life and soon cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) inspired by the 80s, vigilante with hypersonic screams Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and mafia heiress Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) all enter the picture.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
  • Director: Cathy Yan
  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor
  • Storyline: Newly single Harley Quinn is in hot water with all her foes, but crime lord Roman Sionis will only spare her life if she brings back a diamond he desperately desires

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) doesn’t quite have that intricate a plot to get your brain’s cogs churning. The film entirely relies on flash, style and suave action to lasso those eyeballs. But because its ruse is apparent doesn’t make it any less entertaining. That said, director Cathy Yan could have exercised some economy in painstakingly introducing every character. With a non-linear structure, the narrative swiftly oscillates from past to present and many a neon marker graphic drawing on screen. Sporadic narration with cheeky innuendos and schticky comedy keep the pace going. Yan crafts a spunky young film that will not allow an audience succumb to distraction. It’s important to mention that in spite of Quinn’s highly sexualised outfit and demeanour, Yan doesn’t resort to pandering to a male gaze, even if she includes a combat scene amidst a downpour of sprinklers.

As is expected from the trailers itself, Robbie is mesmerising in a character that could very well become grating. Yan elicits the essence of each role from the other actors as well, propelling their best to the forefront. Huntress’ awkwardness, Montoya’s upstanding righteousness, Black Canary’s vulnerability, Cassandra’s innocence and even Sionis’ high-pitched eccentric villainy. Credit is due to the film’s writer Christina Hodson too. It’s great to see a film about women, written and directed by women. No wonder then, that there’s no titillating of the audience with visual cues and cringe dialogues. With R-rated superhero films gaining traction at the box office, after Deadpool’s runaway success, it’s heartening to see that effected by women too. DC has been lagging behind with more misses than hits, but Birds of Prey is definitely the latter.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 6:43:27 AM |

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