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'Birds of Prey' Movie Review: Ball-Busting Ladies Are Empowering

User Rating: 5 / 5

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Birds Of Prey Movie Review CineMovie

The BIRDS OF PREY ladies are going to hurt you where it counts. After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn is on her own and now everyone wants to kill her for being such a pain in the ass.

BIRDS OF PREY stars Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley from SUICIDE SQUAD. Joining her new squad is Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. Ewan McGregor is the villainous and creepy Roman Sionis with Chris Messina unrecognizable as his sidekick henchmen, Victor.

Unlike the trailers have you believe, the team doesn’t fight together until the end, so each are off doing their own thing. Harley is going through an identity crisis figuring out who she is apart from her dangerous lover. The only thing she knows how to do is create mayhem. The first half of BIRDS OF PREY focuses on Harley on the run from Montoya and everyone she’s wronged which is a very big list. There were some very funny moments there but it did take a while to get to a more meaningful plot.

Since I’m not familiar with the source material for the characters, I can’t speak to how loyal they were to the comic books. However I did hear from others that the costumes are not faithful to the source material but that’s probably because the ladies are in charge here rather than men so can’t fault them for moving away from the overly sexualized comic book costumes.

The film directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, however, has that comic book mayhem feel. It’s complete chaos from start to finish. The DC movie is not told in a linear fashion. The story often flashbacks with Harley narrating her story as well as the other women’s background information. But the tone is not consistent. At the start, Harley breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience but they drop it midway. That wouldn’t been a better narrative device than just hearing Harley’s narration.

BIRDS OF PREY is not a mainstream film. It may be just as polarizing like SUICIDE SQUAD which I hated. I did like BIRDS OF PREY. It was a fun time although I wished it was a little more subtle than in your face. The flashbacks take you out of the moments and often confuse the storyline. Sometimes they reveal too much which takes out the mystery of Huntress for example.


Frankly, I found HQ annoying. The accent was over the top. She’s loud, bratty and makes stupid decisions. A few colleagues pointed out Harley is not in her right mind which explains some of her behavior which may be true but it got repetitive and old fast. There were some moments of contrast which were very effective in informing us about her character. There’s two scenes were she’s speechless in response to hurtful comments. I would’ve liked to see more of her true self rather than an obnoxious boob like the scene at the police station. She comes in with a canon-like gun that shoots confetti and bean bags at the cops. The cops are rendered useless. In reality, cops with guns would’ve shot her down before she got off her second round. My eye rolls were working over time there.

The one that stole the show was Jurnee Smollett Bell as Black Canary. I found her character more compelling, likable and bad ass. She too finds Harley troublesome and unbearable. Winstead’s Huntress was also fun to watch in action. I would’ve preferred to see her character more shrouded in mystery but Harley’s narration gives away too much early on so there was no payoff to the mystery of the leather-clad killer of bad guys that we’re teased with early on.

Ewan McGregor plays it super creepy as germaphobic villain (Syonus) aka Black Mask but much scarier is Chris Messina’s Victor who you wouldn’t want to be left alone with. A silver-haired Messina is barely recognizable as a stone-blooded killer who cuts people’s faces off.

When it comes to the fighting style, Canary had the best moves but all the ladies aim where it’s going to hurt the male assailants.. A lot of ball busting goes on in this movie. They get down and dirty with some martial art moves. Harley’s go to move is the two feet kick in the chest. While the fighting choreography is good, repetition of the same moves tires out.

No doubt watching the women of BIRDS OF PREY is empowering, and the script from screenwriter Christina Hodson also deal with relevant MeToo undertones.
As a detective in Gotham’s police department, Perez’ Montoya gets the job done but it’s her male counterparts who get the credit and promotions. In another scene, Harley is slipped a roofie at a bar, and the actions following it makes a strong statement about it.

One of Harley’s cohorts from SUICIDE SQUAD makes a cameo sort of in the movie. I won’t spoil who or how

So I went in hoping to love it, but came out just liking it. BUT it was fun ride like at a circus so expect a lot of clowning around except without the joker.

 

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