DC continues its winning streak with the zany and vibrant “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).”
In the crime-riddled city of Gotham, Harley Quinn has to join forces with some unlikely individuals to stay alive. Crime leader Black Mask is on Harley’s tail, and the fate of her friends hangs in the balance.
“Birds of Prey” stars Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco and Ewan McGregor. The film is directed by Cathy Yan.
“Birds of Prey” delivers on the failed promise of “Suicide Squad.” Whereas “Squad” was a product of last-minute editorial changes, “Prey” is the result of an uncompromising vision.
The film leans heavily into its gleeful R rating. With a startling amount of violence and graphic language, this marks DC’s first R rated film in this universe. Fortunately, it doesn’t force it.
The main reason the film works is because of the talented cast. Robbie reaffirms that she’s the perfect choice to portray Harley. She embodies the character’s whimsical and heartfelt incoherence in all the right ways.
Robbie is given more emotional material to chew on than in “Squad.” Her complexity as a character is put under a microscope. She also delivers some hilarious laughs.
The true highlight is McGregor. He fuels the film’s antagonist with an aura of shocking dread. However, he finds a variety of opportunities to lace his serious moments with some darkly hilarious comedy.
I loved how Robbie and McGregor were able to let loose and be as wild and unpredictable as the gritty world around them. This is in huge credit to Christina Hodson’s colorful script and Yan’s confident direction.
Yan taps into a deeper female-centric story. It felt as if every performer added an extra layer of depth. I was satisfied with the character development and world-building.
Structurally, this film is like “Pulp Fiction.” It echoes the same non-linear narrative involving the criminal underworld. I liked the storytelling structure, even though it can be occasionally sporadic for its good. I did believe there were a couple of occasions where the film jumped around too much.
Despite a sporadic, though entertaining, narrative, “Birds of Prey” is a smash hit. With some jaw-dropping use of smaller-scale action and color, the film sports a true comic-book feel. The gangster-crime angle grounds the crazy characters in all the right ways.
With a fantastic ensemble cast led by powerhouse work from Robbie and McGregor, “Birds of Prey” shouldn’t be missed in theaters. Yan has made one of the most personality-infused comic book films.
I give “Birds of Prey” 4.25 stars out of 5. The film is rated R and runs for 1 hour and 49 minutes.