Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review: Birds of Prey

Release date: February 7, 2020
Running time: 109 minutes
Starring: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

After 2016's less than stellar Suicide Squad, DC decided to make a clean break from that movie's Joker... twice!  It made a dark, serious origin story in 2019's Joker; and it salvaged the best thing from Suicide Squad for a separate movie featuring Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.  And wow was that a great decision.  Whereas the Joker is a dark descent into one person's madness, Birds of Prey is an explosive celebration of Harley Quinn's craziness and individuality.  After her final breakup with Mr. J, Harley Quinn decides to set out on her own.  However, she finds that life without the Joker is tougher and more dangerous than she originally thought.  She has to quickly learn some very dangerous lessons in order to survive in her new solo lifestyle.

The main draw of Birds of Prey is Robbie's fantastic portrayal of Harley Quinn.  She has the right combination of ruthlessness, humor, charm, and pure craziness to bring the iconic DC character to life.  Quinn is both predictable and unpredictable at the same time.  I'm glad that Suicide Squad was made because it gave birth to this badass lady who will hopefully appear in more DC movies.  Robbie is joined by an eclectic group of other leading ladies who are all insanely different making for an unlikely, but very interesting cast.  None of them are your typical villain or hero, but they each have their motivations for being pulled into the gravitational craziness that is Harley Quinn.  One is a cop who ends up investigating Harley, there is a singer and a pickpocket who both run into Quinn, and a vengeful assassin (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is especially engaging as the Huntress).  Each of these ladies' backstories are explored briefly; it is a nice touch but doesn't make you lose focus from the main star.   

However, outside of the stellar cast, Birds of Prey has style in droves.  There are bold color choices throughout that give the movie a comic book feel despite the realistic, New York setting.  Some scenes have splashes of color that pop off the screen; it's not in your face but it is enough to make you appreciate the comic book origins of this film.  Additionally, the costume choices--especially Quinn's--are bright and deliberate.  Birds of Prey also has a surprising amount of action, with varied and imaginative fight sequences.  The fight choreography is not lighting quick, but it is very creative, uses the unique environments and skills of the various characters, and will leave you very entertained.  Whether it's Quinn taking on a group of overconfident thugs, or an imaginative chase scene involving some pretty whacky antics, the action in this film delivers both fun and thrills.  And all of this is complemented by some really great musical choices, both atmospheric music and covers of known songs to fit this movie's style. 

Birds of Prey is a triumphant breakout for Harley Quinn, a wild celebration of this character filled with bold style, entertaining action, a wonderful cast, and plenty of craziness.  

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