Birds of Prey: A Mighty Fun Time

(L-r) MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD as Huntress, MARGOT ROBBIE as Harley Quinn, ROSIE PEREZ as Renee Montoya, ELLA JAY BASCO as Cassandra Cain and JURNEE SMOLLETT-BELL as Black Canary in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN),” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is the type of film that gives its viewers exactly what they want.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) catches us up on what she’s been doing lately.  The good news is that if you missed Suicide Squad, there’s nothing to fear.  You get the origin story within mere moments before a break-up story.  Hey, there must be a way to explain why the Clown Prince of Gotham isn’t in Birds of Prey!

The film’s big bad comes in the form of mob boss Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) and he has it in for Cassandra “Cass” Cain (Ella Jay Basco).  With a bounty on Cass, Harley goes after her.  Eventually, Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Renee Montoya’s (Rosie Perez) paths all lead to Harley.  Together, they must team up against Roman.

Harley is by no means a hero.  She’s more of an anti-heroine.  Yet it’s interesting to see the choices being made when her character is on her own.  Moreover, add the Birds of Prey into the picture it just takes things to an entirely different level.  I’m going to be downright honest after an eight-season investment in Arrow, it’s still hard to watch anyone else taking up arms as the Black Canary.  This isn’t to say anything bad about Jurnee Smollett-Bell as she certainly makes the role her own but it’s just not the same as watching Katie Cassidy.  In a post-Crisis world, the DCEU and Arrowverse are now in the same shared universe.

Visually speaking, the film is seen through Harley’s eyes so naturally, we’re looking at Gotham’s underworld.  As such, don’t expect to see the heart and soul of Gotham.  Regardless, we get a few good chase scenes.  Above all, women get to kick ass!

Here’s what happens when you take the clown prince out of the picture: a film can be a lot of fun.  Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the single best part of Suicide Squad to the point in which the character received a spin-off.  While DC films have been hit and miss since 2016, this film is certainly a hit in the making.  We have a few bad-ass women on screen in the forms of heroes or anti-heroes.  That being said, it’s a bit tricky to watch when you know that there the same characters making appearances in the Arrowverse.  Remember Huntress, anyone?  Okay, I digress.

Sundance discovery Cathy Yan breaks a barrier by becoming the first Asian woman to direct a film in this genre.  Christina Hodson’s script delivers the goods when it comes to fun and action.  Birds of Prey provides a solid mix of action and comedy but it’s exactly what one should be expecting from a film starring Harley Quinn.  Daniel Pemberton’s provides a score that we can only get from such a film.  I can’t wait for the sequel!

A few more items of business.  There is post-credits dialogue.  No scene.  Is it worth staying?  I’ll let you decide this because a whole lot of people worked hard on this film.

DIRECTOR:  Cathy Yan
SCREENWRITER:  Christina Hodson
CAST:  Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, and Ewan McGregor

Warner Bros. Pictures opens Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) in theaters on February 7, 2020. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.