Now that her once former lover JOKER has branched out and took the word by storm, thanks to his “why so serious?” solo film, Harley Quinn takes centre stage in her own first full blown movie, but from being the best the best thing in Suicide Squad, can too much on-screen time, actually be a good thing?
Having jumped onto this film, weeks after its release and knowing that the film has failed somewhat at the box-office, I was expecting a kind of different film, to what was offered.
While its a critical success, the first solo film for Margot Robbie’s much celebrated Harley Quinn has failed to find much love with the cinema audience and for some reason, while I was expecting to be blown away by this and side with the critics, after the final credits rolled, I can see why the film has struggled.
Make no mistake, Harley stole the show in Suicide Squad, a shining light in the middle of a muddled film and yet Birds Of Prey somehow does the opposite in which her zany personality can actually overpower the film.
Your enjoyment of Birds Of Prey will depend on how much you can handle the constant winks to the camera and the OTT voice/overs. For some reason I was reminded of Will Ferrell’s Anchorman halfway though which I admit is quite bizarre. The funniest character in that celebrated franchise is Steve Carrel’s Brick, who when he has moments in a strong ensemble cast, he stands out brilliantly, but would I really want to see a full blown solo movie of just him?
While the title states “Birds Of Prey”, for the majority of the running time it is the Harley show, with the actual team up not really happening until the final quarter.
The opening half is really a show in how Quinn can move away from her Prince of Crime lover. You don’t really have to be clued up on the events of Suicde Squad, especially as Robbie’s Harley has rightly become an iconic image and a dazzling breathless opening will fill you in with all you need to know.
Harley and the Joker are no more and without the protection of her fearsome Clown, Quinn is a wanted woman. Everyone she has done wrong wants her dead and thanks to a missing valuable gem, her paths cross with the quite demented villain Black Mask (a clearly loving it Ewan McGregor), whose vice of wearing gloves and cutting off his victims faces sets him apart from the usual DC Villains.
Its thanks to the pickpocket antics of young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), that sets the plot in motion, with the Black Mask sparring Harley’s life if she can get back the gem. Obviously a conflicted Harley shows a tiny bit of maternal instincts and tries to protect Cassandra which sets off set-pieces that you half expect John Wick to turn up!
Its the rest of the Birds Of Prey team that you somewhat feel sorry for. While the Suicide Squad was heavily criticised for endless introductions for thier characters, you wish the relentless pace on show would ease so we get to know more of these characters.
While I was lucky to be a fan of ARROW and have the background of who the Black Canary and The Huntress are, for the newbies, you get what you need for the story to play, but you can’t help but feel that Jurnee Smollett-Bell and in particular Mary Elizabeth Winstead are underused, with police officer Montoya (Rosie Perez) – a who loves to spout 80’s cop dialogue- making up the rest of the team!
Like someone shaking a can of fizzy pop and then opening, the film is sprayed full of colours and zany ideas, in which some work and some don’t. Its takes so long for the eventual team up that when it does, you wish that it happened sooner.
The “girl-power” on shows, sparkles fantastically when we get to the Joker fun-house finale – a stage that would not have looked out of place in the Adam West and Burt Young era.
With delicious slight gags and violence aplenty, its a whirlwind of action that show the potential of what these girls can offer and its during this moment that I realised that Harley is more appealing and fantastic when she has a team around her.
Jumping on the DEADPOOL bandwagon for the Harley Quinn show does not quite work for the majority of the running time as the gags/swearing/violence is not as slick as what Wade offers, but for that joyful last quarter, if any film has a potential to serve up a better follow up then its this.
The box-office takings may have put a huge doubt on that, but lets hope that these Birds Of Prey have one more chance to spread their wings, in a sequel that will be memorable than forgettable!
Those looking for the HA HA HA seriousness of JOKER, look elsewhere, Birds of Prey is exactly like Harley Quinn, conflicted, tormented, crazy, surreal and downright messy…..