In a franchise seemingly dominated by the Joker, Harley Quinn is back to steal the spotlight with twisted pride.
“Birds of Prey” marks the return of Margot Robbie’s iconic Harleen Quinzel. The film takes place in the aftermath of Harley’s cataclysmic breakup with the Clown Prince of Crime as she simultaneously struggles and thrives with her newfound independence. When a valuable diamond ends up in the wrong hands, Harley, along with an ensemble of DC Comics crime fighters, become entangled in an adventure at the peril of Gotham City supervillains Black Mask and Victor Zsasz.
Robbie gracefully returns to the deranged, yet lovable character of Harley Quinn with the benefit of a flexible R rating. Robbie’s bright-eyed and infectious energy shines throughout her performance. Her erroneous one liners, sound effects and erratic movements complement every single one of her interactions. When something truly hurts the character, Robbie’s subtle yet heartbreaking facial expressions strike emotions effectively. Robbie’s Quinn is the twisted bloody heart of this film, and it never ceases to thump out endlessly maniacal entertainment.
As for the rest of the Birds, each of them inject their own unique personality and style to the ensemble. Rosie Perez is admirably persistent and powerful with her performance of Renee Montoya. Jurnee Smollett-Bell brings Black Canary to life with ferocity. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is comedic as well as menacing in her performance as the Huntress. Ella Jay Basco rounds out the crew with her wisecracking, youthful Cassandra Cain.
Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) and Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) are a perfectly stylistic duo of villains, echoing the same twisted bedazzlement and performative behavior as Harley’s former lover, Joker, played by Jared Leto in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” McGregor devours his scenes, demanding to be the center of attention. His charismatic quips and unpredictable dance moves add an uncomfortable charm to his sinister character. Messina’s Victor Zsasz is downright disgusting, embodying the worst that Gotham has to offer.
The fluid cinematography combined with the intensive soundtrack and score create several memorable sequences. Continuous dynamic shots, such as one following Cassandra Cain on a pickpocketing spree with “Sway With Me” by GALXARA and Saweetie blaring, are delightful. The action sequences are flashy and visceral. Bones and bodies break in all kinds of places as the Birds of Prey work their magic on ensembles of goons. The smooth movement of the camera greatly complement the kickass choreography.
The overall tone and story perfectly coincide with Harley Quinn’s unhinged point of view. She twists up the narrative structure of the events, pausing in the middle of scenes to rewind and clarify certain events. Harley begins the narrative at a place of personal struggle, but as a series of unforeseen events occur, her mission becomes one of unity and being the author of her own story. The entangling chaos of Harley’s predicament eventually culminates in the cathartic teaming up of the Birds of Prey in a sequence that is equally zany as it is heroic.
“Birds of Prey” is a monumental entry into the superhero genre and a “fantabulous” fever dream of entertainment that will hopefully pave the way for more unique and diverse voices to dominate action-packed screens.
Rating: 4.5 Beaver Taxidermy Pets out of 5