Mr. J is gone. Well not gone gone. He ain’t dead.But he is gone out of Harley’s life. Finally. What a text-book abusive relationship that was. And now Harley Quinn is on her own. Finally? (Yes, that question mark is there on purpose.) Harley isn’t entirely sure what to do now. What should she do that with all this freedom, independence and emancipation? She lost herself in that guy. Completely. Whoever Harleen Quinzel was before Mr. J. is never coming back. Harley Quinn and Mr. J is never happening again. So it’s time for a change. And searching for oneself is a pain in the butt as we all know. Searching for an identity and who you are is difficult. Harley can finally be herself and do whatever she wants, as long as everyone thinks she and Mr. J are still together. But one day they find out, and then half the city will want Harley’s head on a pike. Oh, and Harley gets a hyena. And Harley becomes a mentor/role model to a kid.
And as Harley mentions there are other women in Gotham looking for emancipation as well.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is not about the Birds of Prey. It is mainly a story about Harley Quinn told by Harley Quinn. Meaning the narrative is chaotic, cartoonish.It jumps back and forth and introduces and re-introduces characters just for the sake of it—just because of the zaniness embedded in Harley. And it works.
Most importantly, this is a course correction for DC and the Suicide Squad franchise. And for that abusive relationship that J and Harley had. A course correction done right. Margot Robbie gets her chance to shine as the character in all its cartoonish glory. She is chatoic, distracted, stands on her own, doesn’t let others underestimate her and puts up a hell of a fight, whereas in Suicide Squad she was reduced to being Joker‘s main squeeze. If you didn’t watch Suicide Squad, you don’t have to worry that movie is nicely and quickly glossed over in an animated intro.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has the least screen time out of the whole ensemble. But she manages to get the most out of it. Her Huntress is uncomfortable in social situations but super comfortable in combat.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance (Black Canary) is perhaps the character whom Harley should take an example from. Dinah truly changes who she is for the good, and decides to help those in need (in again a gory way). She decides to lend her voice to others. She was subdued by Sionis for years, at first grateful to him for getting her out of the street. Isn’t that reminiscent of another abusive relationship we’ve already seen?
Ewan McGregor as the main villain Sionis (Black Mask) is operating on a different frequency the whole run time. He is intimidating and his seriousness is what carries a lot of the dramatic tone of the film. He cares about his possessions, fashion and hygiene. You know, a Gotham man for all seasons. Oh, and sometimes he orders his main goon to peel off someone’s face. As you do.
Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya is underestimated the whole time by her male colleagues at the precinct, and being told how stupid it is to go against Sionis. In the end she wins by realizing she doesn’t have to prove anything to these people.
The action scenes are inventive and cartoonish. None of the characters pull any punches. And it gets sometimes very gory. My personal favorite moment was Harley setting someone’s beard on fire. (I hate beards)
Birds of Prey is recommended for fans of cartoonish, inventive action and mainly for everyone who was rooting for Harley to get her life back. Spoiler alert: She gets her life back, and much more.