BIRDS OF PREY A STEP UP FROM SUICIDE SQUAD

BIRDS+OF+PREY+MOVIE+POSTER

Photographs courtesy of EW.COM

BIRDS OF PREY MOVIE POSTER

The latest DC outing is something of a mess of glitter and gore, reaching for a fun action-ensemble romp while expanding existing characters and introducing new ones for inevitable future followups. For the most part, it works. It’s not Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, it doesn’t and shouldn’t try to be – but it does offer us a better exploration of Harley Quinn’s character than Suicide Squad. It doesn’t reach new heights but it’s an entirely watchable addition to the DC cinematic universe.

The movie follows the ending of Suicide Squad, with Harley and the Joker breaking up sometime in that interval. We get to see Harley thrown out of a house but we never actually get to see what lead to the breakup this time. Personally, I argue that this is for the better. Harley Quinn is always at her best when she’s separated from the Joker, as she tends to be treated as an accessory to the Joker’s story otherwise. Not in this case, though. The Joker, though mentioned often, is never seen throughout the film. Here, the focus is split between Harley, her interesting choice for a sidekick — Cassandra Kane (AKA Batgirl/Black Bat/Orphan) — and the eponymous Birds: Renee Montoya, Dinah Lance (AKA Black Canary) and Helena Bertinelli (AKA Huntress). It isn’t an even split in attention. Harley getting the most focus is to be expected, but aside from her, both Black Canary and Montoya get relatively equal focus. Helena, meanwhile, gets the least amount of screen time.

All the actresses play their roles to the fullest. With Margot Robbie again being a standout, she is quick to define the Harley Quinn role for the modern age. Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays an interesting, if underdeveloped, Black Canary, while the same can be said for Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress. Her portrayal of Huntress does distinguish itself with a reinterpretation of the character as highly lethal but socially awkward, a significant contrast to the snarky femme fatale that the character is usually portrayed as. Rosie Perez puts in a solid performance but is somewhat limited by the innate aspects of her character that come straight from a police procedural, a fact that no amount of self-deprecating references can make up for. Ella Jay Basco has great chemistry with Robbie, and it shows in her portrayal of Kane. It is interesting to place Cassandra Kane as Harley’s kid sidekick, as the character is usually portrayed as a neurodivergent Asian former child-assassin-turned-apprentice to Batman. Clearly, this is an unlikely trajectory for her in the DC cinematic universe as of this film. As previously stated, all the actresses provide credible performances, but only Harley’s character is explored with any thoroughness. I would not be surprised if their performances here were merely to set up a future live action show for DC’s streaming service.

All in all, 4 out of 5.

Worth the price of admission.