‘Birds of Prey’ delivers a colorful, demented movie


Illustration by Marissa Haas.

DC Comics has been on a roll.  With “Joker” grabbing awards and raking in the money at the box office, it’s funny to think that only a few years ago, people were bemoaning the company’s output of comic book movies.

Films like “Batman v. Superman” and “Suicide Squad” may have made a ton of dough, but they were lifeless cash cows intent on trying to ride off Marvel’s success. However, the company has made the right call by creating more focused, stand-alone affairs, which is working out for them. The trend continues with “Birds of Prey.”

When the Joker breaks up with his mischievous but anarchic love Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie, she’s left in a state of uncertainty.  This changes when she finds herself entangled in the crimes of mob boss Roman Sionis, played by Ewan McGregor. Sionis seeks a valuable diamond he can use to greatly expand his criminal empire.

Although a sequel to the dreadful “Suicide Squad,” “Birds of Prey” doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis like its predecessor.  From the get-go, it’s clear that this is an over-the-top, stylish affair featuring a protagonist with a love for mayhem and egg-bacon sandwiches.

Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn is shades of the similarly zany Deadpool, but it doesn’t reach a point where her character becomes obnoxious.

Harley Quinn is not working alone, as she is saddled up with various allies over the course of the adventure.  Some, like Huntress played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, don’t get as much focus compared to Black Canary, played by Jurnee Smollett Bell. However, they all serve their purpose of moving the story along.

For all of the crazy action, humor and punk attitude “Birds of Prey” displays, the plot encompassing it relies on familiar tropes like a McGuffin everyone and their mother is gunning for.

The story is not the film’s greatest strength. Instead, it’s the characters. The centerpiece is Harley Quinn herself.

She’s at first filled with sorrow and remorse since her longtime lover, a crazed maniac like her, broke it off, but then events happen which give her a renewed sense of determination.  

Matching Harley Quinn’s bubbly insanity is Roman Sionis.  McGregor, fresh off “Doctor Sleep,” chews the scenery in a delightful way as the mob boss who’s more obsessed with his looks than any normal human being. Plus, he serves as a good foil to the clown princess.

“Birds of Prey” serves its purpose as a fun, film-going experience.  It forgoes the drab and dreary look of “Suicide Squad” in favor of colorful anarchy, and it pays off.

The film continues DC’s redemption run for the better, and one can only hope the company can keep this streak going.