Film Review – Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Title – Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Director – Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs)

Cast – Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ella Jay Basco

Plot – Struggling after her long term relationship with Gotham’s clown prince Joker has broken down, Harley Quinn (Robbie) and a rag-tag collection of some of the city’s most notorious female villain’s band together to save the life of young girl Cassandra Cain whose wanted dead by crime boss Roman Sionis (McGregor).

“I’m the one they should be scared of!”

Review by Eddie on 07/02/2020

There’s no denying its sense of energy and enthusiasm, something that was amiss in the previous Harley Quinn starring Suicide Squad but for all its colour, flair and style, Birds of Prey can’t overcome a so-so plot (a major trouble for a lot of DC films), a sense of repetitiveness and a feeling that everything is a slightly too try-hard for this “girls on a mission” to ever get into full flight.

Undoubtedly a labour of love for its leading lady and producer Margot Robbie, who was the ringmaster behind this whole affair getting off the ground, Prey gives its leading lady a large portion of the spotlight and for anyone that thought Robbie stole the show in the mostly forgettable Suicide Squad, they’re in for a real treat as Robbie chews scenery, feeds hyenas, cracks skulls (and multiple legs/ankles) and eats delicious looking egg and bacon sandwiches on her quest to recover from her breakup with Mr. J and fight for her survival after local crime boss Roman Sionis decides Quinn’s time on this earth is up.

A lot of advance press and marketing has focussed around how Prey is all about the team up of Quinn and new additions to this side of the DC movie universe, Rosie Perez’s novelty t-shirt wearing detective Renee Montoya, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell Black Canary and Ella Jay Basco’s Cassandra Cain but for anyone expecting a true ensemble flick, you’ll be left disappointed as the films more three quarters Quinn show and one quarter squad-up as director Cathy Yan struggles to get her story moving before the half-way mark.

There’s a lot going on in Prey, in many ways it feels conflicted as to what it wants to be.

Is it a dark comedy? A crime film? An expose on finding oneself in this mad crazy world? Whatever it’s true intentions are it’s hard for us to care or focus on any one particular thing as we fly between scenes, some with comical but also wince inducing violence, scenes with Ewan McGregor’s big bad getting to swear and chew scenery but not do too much at all (bar one particularly awkward sequence involving a customer of his nightclub) or other supposedly feel good moments between Quinn and her teenage pickpocket off-sider Cassandra.

None of the stories components ever feel as though they combine into one cohesive and gripping whole and while they all share the same sense of bombastic and loud delivery that is at all times accompanied by either a terribly hand-picked soundtrack or Daniel Pemberton’s incessantly over the top score, Prey never feels like a film that is heading towards any genuinely interesting destination or end goal as it seems content to allow its self-aware winking at camera or audience directed voice-overs to do the work for it.

It is a shame for not just the film but for the future of this type of solo/team-up Quinn adventure as Robbie remains the perfect fit for Harley’s loopy delivery and some of the films action beats and stylistic capturing by D.O.P Matthew Libatique are fantastic but it all takes place around a rocky road of bad plots, half-cooked ideas and a feeling that for all its hype, this team up movie never even feels like we get the payoff of seeing a bunch of intriguing characters shining together in their quest to show the world these baddies can match it with the big boys.

Final Say –

Barely pausing for breath, Birds of Prey is a frenetic and colourful comic book adaptation but despite the best efforts of its leading lady, this newest addition to the DC universe is both forgettable and disappointing, failing to establish its posse of death bringers in a way that makes us want more.

2 snot bubbles out of 5

15 responses to “Film Review – Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

  1. Shame, as I liked the overall style Ayer was attempting with SS (2016), but thought the editing of that film was pulverized. I thought BoP might be an apology for that, but it looks like not.

    So, overall, which is a bigger problem, here: BoP’s editing or its writing, and how can you tell?

    • I think here mate it’s more the writing and plot. It feels like it never finds its real focus as it heads from scene to scene.
      Much like Squad as well I found the main “bad” of the piece rather unappealing and while McGregor seems to be having a blast, he doesn’t get to do much.
      E

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this Geek, I was looking forward to it but found it utterly forgettable and its attempt to be the female Deadpool feel flat in my book.
      E

  2. I must’ve hated this movie more than you did. To me, it was a weak attempt to copy Deadpool, but with more female empowerment. I agree that the plot was mostly a mess. It even made the same mistake Star Wars: The Last Jedi made by having two endings instead of one. I didn’t like the humor. I thought the egg sandwich thing was unnecessary (and unfunny). I didn’t even like Margot Robbie’s performance! I thought she was great in Suicide Squad, but here, she was like nails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t stand her. So yeah, I think DC might have just released a real stinker here.

  3. Pingback: 30+ Birds of Prey Reviews – Doctor Robotnik vs. Harley Quinn, "Physical Disadvantages" and Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda – Movies, Movies, Movies·

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