Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020)
Directed by Cathy Yan
Starring Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell & Ewan McGregor
After a poor opening weekend, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) changed it’s name to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. And rightfully so. This isn’t a superhero team up. It’s a Harley Quinn film acted with fervor, charm and rage by the illustrious Margot Robbie. We saw hints of the character’s potential in Suicide Squad (2016), but the rest of the cast in this disappointing film were not up to the task.
In Birds of Prey, they are. The introverted Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gives socially awkward kids a true role model. The character is so reserved it makes Quinn seem even more over-the-top colorful and crazy, an impressive feat.
Director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) does even more with Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. He’s the perfect villain that you “love to hate.” The rest of the cast is almost as good, from Rosie Perez as the grizzled cop to Jurnee Smollett-Bell as the young Black Canary.
While Birds of Prey excels in characterization, it’s story languors. Too many quick, “funny” gags and cheap laughs. R-rated humor definitely helps some superhero films (Logan could not have been told without it’s violent imagery; Deadpool would be nothing without it), but Birds of Prey didn’t need any of the extra violence or bad language. In fact, I think it hindered an overall acceptance from young audiences—the ones who deserved to be inspired by the film’s primarily female cast.
In short, I wanted a film that empowered women and demonstrated that female superheroes are even cooler than male superheroes; I got a bunch of great characters and really cool scenes stitched together without a powerful, unifying narrative.
If Logan and Deadpool were A’s, and Suicide Squad was a C-, then this film is a B-