Warning: Minor Spoilers
The Clown Prince of Crime’s (now) former partner in crime and love interest is looking to emancipate herself from the grip of her ex’s shadow and create a name for herself. “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” follows Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) on a colorful and wild journey of self-discovery after she’s left in the dust for the last time.
With Harley on her own, she comes across and joins other women who want to break free from their figurative cages; Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), is a Gotham detective who is constantly ignored by her male peers. Dinah Lance (played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is a lounge singer for Roman Sionis, a.k.a Black Mask, (Ewan McGregor), who finds herself embroiled in his dirty deeds while also dealing with the heroic legacy left by her mother. Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is an Italian mob princess who is armed with vengeance for her family and a crossbow, and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young orphan, and thief who is trying to find her place in a cruel world.
The film begins in a way that resembles the inner workings of Harley’s mind, being disjointed and flamboyant, while also making it surprisingly entertaining. Throughout, viewers can be met with the most delightful fight sequences, jokes, jabs and the best use of sets (i.e. the final fight at an abandoned amusement park). The film also finds a way to make the costumes of certain characters a little more realistic for fighting while also being inspired by the many source materials for “Birds of Prey,” an example being the costumes worn by Black Canary and Huntress throughout the film, but most notably at the end of the film.
The R-rated film shares some of the same cast of characters first introduced (as a team) in the 1995 comic series, as well as the 2002 television series that shares the same (albeit abbreviated) name. In a way, the film grounds the characters in a semi-realistic way, most notably seen in the character Dinah Lance, who has one of the most retconned and convoluted origins in comic book history; the film keeps her origin somewhat true to the comics with creative differences that makes it both simple and extremely interesting. Also, with the film having women taking over the director, writer and producer roles, it creates a breath of fresh air in both behind the scenes and on the screen, crafting a story that keeps women in mind and not just something for men to gawk at.
Despite the noise caused by some comic book fans who were angry about the film’s lack of a scantily clad Harley Quinn, the inclusion of a race bent Black Canary, and other plot points meant to empower women in a genre that has not held the best representation or space for them, the Cathy Yan directed film is a great inclusion to the DCEU. The cast performs well with each other and the story moves along in a way that doesn’t feel drawn out. The soundtrack sets the scene and compliments the many characters very well. It is one of the many films that livens up the live-action DC Comics properties and further fleshes out the psychiatrist formerly known as Harleen Quinzel in her time away from the Joker, giving Margot Robbie more to work with to showcase the quirks of the lively character. All in all, it is an extremely entertaining flick that creates a name for itself amongst other comic-book films.