Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn is the latest offering from DC Films and a partial sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie returns in the lead role of Harley Quinn, striking out on her own after a breakup with her beloved Mr J. Out on a bender, she makes a declaration of independence for Gotham to see, unfortunately declaring open season on her life. Elsewhere, the lives of 4 other women become entwined with Harley’s chaos due to their involvement with crime boss Roman Sionis.
Robbie is pure delicious delight in BOP, amping up all her success playing Harley in Suicide Squad, but adding fragility, femininity and independence throughout. As she keeps reminding the audience, we shouldn’t underestimate her.
Cathy Yan is in the director’s chair and her vision of Harley’s world is pure cartoon chaos. The colours, the editing, the soundtrack, the costumes – they all feel like they’ve spilled right out of Harley herself and they are wicked fun. Parts of the film reminded me of Deadpool 2, fourth wall breaks, a young annoying sidekick, an unreliable narrator and multiple timeline rewinds. But this doesn’t feel like a soulless copycat or sequel, BOP is filled with fun and fizz that makes it the most fun I’ve had in a DC film. There’s enough violence to keep her wicked, but enough compassion and glitter to keep us rooting for her.
The costume and production design departments deserve the most praise, the location of the final act battle is pure brilliance and like Into the Spider-Verse, it felt like watching a real comic book or cartoon coming to life before my eyes.
My only criticism of the film, is the name. This is not a Birds of Prey film, it is through and through Harley’s story. The new characters introduced are great, well-acted, well written and full of potential. But by calling the film Birds of Prey, it feels like a cop out to then only really see the Birds of Prey as secondary characters. Jurnee Smollett-Bell gets the most screen time of the birds and oozes cool in every scene. She plays Dinah Lance, a character well known in The CW’s Arrowverse, but Smollett-Bell brings a new take that had me rooting for her from the start.
I was a big fan of the film, the story is fun, the acting well done but the visuals are a real ride. A colourful cartoon caper that is brilliantly re-watchable.