Everyone’s favorite party girl—who is also a total psycho—is the ringleader of her own playground in Cathy Yan’s sophomore feature, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Back-flipping around the streets of Gotham City, the clown princess of crime Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) lets loose in what is ultimately a chaotic twist of glitter and violence; breaking legs, firing up the Ace Chemical Processing Plant, and relinquishing in pure giddiness at The Booby Trap’s Amusement Mile. Testing out her new identity as an unhinged singleton, now that she and the infamous Joker have broken up, Quinn lashes out with “refined” qualities—celebrating the ‘fantabulous’ insanity that binds herself and four other (not so crazy) misfits to her lively side.
First kicking off Harley’s show with a deliciously giddy voice-over that recounts the crazy gal’s color-popping insanity, Robbie embodies the character with full tilt, reprising her former role from the not-so-good Suicide Squad with an even bigger fizzing, firecracker attention span as she rattles around a timeline that takes double (even triple) twists and turns. Making madness seem a whole lot more fun than Joker ever did, Quinn narrates the story that screenwriter Christian Hodson smartly controls; tapping into the loud and enthusiastic platinum-blonde with rapid-fire fun and personality that enlightens the film with a bounce of adrenaline every time it occurs.
There’s no doubting that Harley, as Robbie plays her to perfection, lives for the moment in Yan’s spectacular DC addition. Serving both mischief and flirtation in every scene; running a fourth-wall-breaking commentary that’s as hilarious as her ecstatic drooling while she watches Gotham’s local chef ‘Sal’ cook her up an egg sandwich—there’s no denying she steals the presence of everyone on-screen. However, despite the compelling endeavor that is Harley Quinzel, there are other women in this film that offer the same extravaganza as Quinn’s sparkling caution-tape jacket. Women that, for the most part, don’t give a f—k.
Directing her first studio feature, Cathy Yan goes all in with impeccable ferocity when it comes to the colorful rendition of an all-female team up in Birds of Prey. From the hard-headed, 80s cop show addict turned sagacious Gotham City police officer, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez); “voice of an angel” booked slick, attentive driver Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell); mysterious vigilante, socially awkward, equipped bad ass Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead); and the unfortunate, pick-pocketing youngster Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco)—the live-action superhero film culminates so much spotlight that it’s hard to focus on just one compelling heroine. Ultimately, the dark-induced tale is as triumphant as it is seeing the five-some (including Quinn) fight ruthlessly in the heart of the moment—backed wonderfully with perfect slow-mo timing to songs that tap effectively into the feminine rage. A sprinkle of the hard-hitting “Lonely Gun” and “Experiment on Me” making it even bigger and wilder when we know who these bad ass women are fighting.
Going head to head with a vicious super-heroine doesn’t at first sound all that extreme, but clashing together a group of smart, ultra-violent and wise women—fitted with a crossbow, a canary cry and a t-shirt that reads “I shaved my balls for this?”—the event sure enhances to be one big fairground ride.
Taking on the role as one of the biggest villains in DC comics yet, Ewan McGregor slays as the whimsical, wealthy, mob-connected face-flayer Roman Sionis (also known as the infamous Black Mask), right down to his comical laugh that shakes the very core of his unpredictable-state. Pinned to the arm of his suede jacket follows the silver-headed Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina)—the very sole face slayer that is merely a deranged serial killer: hooked to the idea of serving and defending his ‘superior’ henchman. The dynamic duo are undeniably a treat to see on-screen, uncovering what DC films have been hiding from their villains for the longest time. But unlike anyone else, Yan lays down the true colors of their status and perceives them in their true obsessive, psychotic-induced side. And as it shows, not hiding a damn thing when it comes to their merciless, cold-blooded, vindictive minds. Swiping the surface with Zsasz’s gaping victim counts that sprouts on his bare chest, the blood that plummets from the chests of the duo’s brainwashed sufferers, and the insane procedure that rounds Sionis’ fetish of removing his victim’s faces with a bare, gleaming knife. The DC film sure does put a lot of shock on audience’s that aren’t quite ready for buckets of blood, but Black Mask and Victor shouldn’t be viewer’s main worry. Instead they should be worrying about the five-some of girls that will kick more ass, slice more faces, and plummet more bullet holes into the very limbs of the narcissistic pair.
Birds of Prey is like a breath of fresh air when it comes to DC films. For the first time in what seems like forever, the studio that was largely mounted on poor storytelling, visuals, and perspective within their films has seemed to have taken a huge leap with Yan leading the charge. Unlike previous comic-book adaptations that foiled in their own colorless palettes, Birds of Prey dives deep into a vibrant account of our favorite crazy gal from start to finish. Flourishing in an explosive and deliciously giddy narrative that keeps the film flowing smoothly throughout, Yan’s creation of on-screen female empowerment is spectacular—and a blockbuster that’s long overdue. Alas, thanks to the pounding battles that syncs with its female-dominated pop soundtrack, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing the girls battle Gotham’s men through a glorious, roller-skate, trampoline-bouncing sequence, besides from knowing that “Harley freakin’ Quinn” shines as a glittering head case without Mr. J by her side.