The weird, wild, wonderful motion picture that is “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” is another addition to the DC Extended Universe. The movie is focused primarily on the anti-hero Harley Quinn, played by award-winning actress Margot Robbie.
The movie takes place some time after the events of “Suicide Squad” — Quinn’s DCEU debut — and takes place in a section of the fictional Gotham City. Here, the stage is set for another excapade in the DC Universe; however, instead of super-powered heroes, there are the Birds of Prey.
The Birds of Prey consist of Renee Motoya (Roise Perez), a detective trying to bust a suspected crime lord; Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a nightclub singer; and Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) the crossbow killer otherwise known as the Huntress. What connects all these women? One Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), known in comic books as Black Mask.
The performances in this movie are good, but the two portrayals that shine the most are Robbie and McGregor. Robbie reprises her role as the criminally insane Quinn, but adds to it in this film by giving a different look at the character, fleshing her out and giving her a touch of sensitivity. McGregor delivers an unpredictable performance, satisfying for a “lesser villain” such as Sionis. McGregor brings a liveliness to the character that evokes a wide range of emotions. Winstead also adds a fun, sometimes serious, portrayal of Huntress that audiences will enjoy.
The fight scenes stood out as the best parts of the film. In comparing Birds of Prey to past comic book movies, the practical effects and grounded action give it an edge on the standard fare of heavy CGI and epic scale. This also gives way to a more brutal, bloody style than most super-hero moviegoers may be used to. So much so that even when the action takes a dive to the crazy side, it still delivers some phenomenal kicks.
However, the quality of the film is brought down by the overall storytelling. It switches perspectives constantly and tries to tell too many individual stories without giving many of them satisfying conclusions. Pacing is lackluster and can’t sustain a smooth narrative throughout the movie.
Overall, the DCEU adds another quality movie to its list with “Birds of Prey,” with surprisingly great moments of action and general enjoyment to be had.