By: Justin Hopkins
Had some excitement going into Birds Of Prey. Suicide Squad was a let down, but Margot Robbie was a standout, and was looking forward to seeing her play the character again. This was about the time where I stopped watching multiple trailers for movies, but the one I did watch looked good. Liked the fact they were bringing in newer characters into the fold and wondered what they had in store for this movie. So, lets jump in and see if they were able to live up to the hype.
Movie starts out, with a cartoon style opening, narrated by Harley. Taking us back to her troubled childhood. Showing us everything that lead up to her and Joker breaking up. We follow along with her trying to get over him. See her get an apartment, her hyena, and joining the Roller Derby. Along with a lot of drinking and just causing general chaos. Getting away with the fact that she hasn’t told a lot of people about the break up. Riding the security of being The Joker’s Girlfriend brings her. Until, she heard her derby team talking down about it. Since she was still wearing the necklace and that she can’t stand on her own feet. That she would go right back to him the moment he said to. So, she runs out. Going to the Ace Chemical and steals a truck. Throwing away her necklace, and crashes the truck into the building. Causing it to blow up. As a sign that the relationship was over. We then jump back a few minutes, to Renee Montoya investigating a murder, by the Crossbow Killer (Huntress) She is kind of overlooked for her age and crazy lone killer theory. When they were interrupted by the explosion, and she puts it together by the necklace. Pointing out how bad of a move this was on Harley’s part, and we see it go into effect the next morning, but first, we get our first look at Roman and Victor, and just how brutal and lethal these two are. Than we get to the morning, Harley’s breakfast is interrupted by Renee. During the chase, she is confronted by all of these people she has wronged, and are now gunning for her. About to get away, with assistance from Huntress, but is caught by Roman’s men. We follow Renee back to the precinct. She is trying to open a case against Roman, but her Captain and D.A both hold grudges against her, and take the case off her. She tries to fight it, but a call comes in. Warning that she has to get Cassandra Cain to safety and Harley attacks. Looking for Cassandra as well, and everything gets crazy from here, and a good place to stop talking about it.
There is almost too many pros to cover and don’t know where to start. At heart, this was Harley’s Movie. Story revolved around her. She even narrated during the movie, but they gave each character a fair amount of time for us to get to know them. We got to feel Renee’s struggle in the Precinct, with the Co-Worker stealing her work, and the D.A who was her Ex that was still angry over what happened in their relationship. We got to see Dinah struggling between wanting to avoid getting involved and her upbringing and Mother’s Heritage, and Helena being a powerhouse, but awkward at the same time. Practicing how to introduce herself as Huntress in the mirror, which was a nice touch. Then you get the extreme charismatic, psychotic nature of Roman and the even more creepy, evil Zsasz. This may have been Harley’s Movie, but everyone got a chance to shine.
I loved the colors that they used throughout. From the multiple explosions from the Chemical Plant. Later when her and Cassandra were walking and they had this purple hue on the road behind them, I get that is weird to point out, but it stood out for me. You get the colorful outfits of Harley, but the suits worn by Roman were just tremendous. They were so over the top, but fit his personality so well.
The fight scenes were intense and brutal and so many leg breaks that made me cringe every time (Broken Bones always gets me) Harley’s unorthodox style was entertaining, due to never really knowing what she was about to do, and I nearly jumped out of my seat when she fired off a confetti packed grenade during the raid on the Police Department. Don’t know if she used that in the comics, but she did in Injustice 2 and love that ability, and love the fact she used it in the movie. During the end siege, we get everyone fighting waves of enemies. Keeping Cassandra between them, and everyone felt special and unique.
On smaller notes, appreciated the little nods to the comic. Sure there was more, but having the Hyena and Bernie the Beaver were nice touches. Can’t wait to watch again to pick up on what else I missed. Then you get Grievances, anytime someone attacked Harley, they would stop, show their name and what she did to them. It was a fun way to explain their appearance and added a little laugh.
Margot Robbie has really made this role her own. She shined in Suicide Squad, and blew it away here. She just know how to bring Harley to life. She would respond to something she said in Narration. Bringing out so many layers. Her pain of the breaks up. Unsure of where to go from here, and that she was facing an impasse. Balancing out the crazy, violent, humorous Harley and the intelligent, good nature of Dr. Harleen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead really sold it for me, when Harley pointed out why Roman was coming for her, and she grinned over the memory, and was awesome in the final fight scene and the end. Rosie Perez was good as Renee. Felt like a cop, in a room full of characters. She didn’t have hitman training, or Super Hero lineage, or the insanity of Harley. Just a cop trying to do the right thing, and nothing more, and helped her stand out. As much as a challenge Margot had, bringing the character back. Thought Jurnee Smollett-Bell had a much harder one. Having to follow several talented Black Canaries in the Arrowverse, and to her credit, she did a good job. Could have let her use her Cry sooner, but she handled herself very well with the emotional conflict over where she stands in all of this.
On the villain side, Ewan McGregor and Chris Messina were excellent as the Black Mask and Victor Zsasz. Ewan really brought out the viscous nature along with the spoiled child that lay within the Black Mask. He grew up with money, but had to work for his own wealth, and carried that anger inside. Looking at people as his things, and can do what he wants, and Ewan did that justice. Then you had the disturbing performance from Chris. Generally coming off as creepy and how much he loved killing people. Often egging Roman on to continue humiliating other, or worse. Both knocked it out of the park.
This is normally reserved for negatives, and yes, this would be considered a negative, but not an out right one, and that is Cassandra Cain. It is difficult to explain.. I thought Ella Jay Basco played her really well, and the character works well with what they were going for, but why did it have to be Cassandra. I get that they not want to use the human weapon, able to beat anyone, Cassandra. Due to Huntress being raised an assassin and would have felt to similar, but could have been just given her random a name, and if I am getting Cassandra’s mixed up. I am sorry, but when I heard Cassandra and we don’t get Batgirl or Orphan. It sets itself up for a little bit of disappointment.
And that has been my review of Birds of Prey. It was a crazy, fun, wild movie that I enjoyed from start to finish. Everyone really did a fantastic job. The comedy was good, the action was solid, and I would strongly suggest going out and checking it out for yourself. Know I will probably check it out again. Final Grade: S
I hope you enjoyed and as always..
Thank you for reading.