Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

I should preface this with the following disclaimer: I don’t like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think she tries to hard to be “crazy” and it hurts the performance as it seems incredibly cartooney. It reminds me of “crazy” pro-wrestlers in the 80’s who would just sit in the background and pull funny faces whilst their manager spoke. It hurts films like this as she’s essentially a cartoon character in a realistic world, and I personally don’t think those two worlds mesh well together. It’s my big issue with Jared Leto’s Joker too; the instant that character has “damaged” tattooed on himself he’s no longer that character as, it’s done for stylistic movie effect rather than in-movie reality. Basically, it makes it seem like he’s doing everything for the benefit of an audience, and it hurts the character. That’s my issue with Robbie’s performance. So if you’re a “OMG Margot is SOOOO perfect and wonderful” then you might want to skip this review.

I wanted to like this film, I really did. It received a lot of hate for having the sheer audacity to be a film which features women both in front and behind the screen. I wanted to write this review and be like “no, support women in film, go see this movie”, but I can’t (and not just because all the cinemas are shut now). My biggest issue is it reminded me of Suicide Squad, like they didn’t learn their mistakes. The complete tonal mess? That’s present in this film. The fear that the film wasn’t comfortable with silence so filled everything with unnecessary noise? That’s here too. The fact that a group of people go from complete strangers to bestest buddies forever? Yup. The Birds Of Prey don’t even really occur until the final scene. So much of the film is about Harley Quinn that it forgets about the group, and not in an effective way. It doesn’t make me want to see more of them (with the exception of one character who I’ll get to later). Harley Quinn is all over this film, which when you’re trying to use the film to introduce a 3-person group for a future movie, seems like a mistake. You know how people felt Captain America: Civil War was more like an Avengers movie than a Captain America movie? This is the opposite, it feels more like a Harley Quinn movie than a Birds Of Prey one. Actually that comparison isn’t really apt, this is more like if Age Of Ultron was called “The New Avengers” based on the final scene. This is a terrible sign for the future because nobody will go see a Birds Of Prey movie without Harley Quinn now, why would they when the studio has done such a terrible job of introducing the characters? Although considering how little money this is making, that’s unlikely (personally I think it was a huge mistake to market this film towards teenage girls and then have it R-Rated so they can’t go see it).

The lack of characterisation hurts none of the characters more than it hurts the villain. Ewan McGregor is clearly having a lot of fun, but he’s not really given enough to do. His character isn’t given anywhere near enough detail, which is a shame as when he is on-screen he’s terrifying.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this film, unless you loved Suicide Squad, in which case what the hell is wrong with you? If it’s part of a box set or if it’s on Netflix then check it out, but it’s just not for me. As I said before though, that might be because I don’t like Margot Robbie’s performance in this (LOVED her in I, Tonya though), so that’s definitely tainting my view of the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect in it though, and is the only reason I would see a Birds Of Prey film. Her performance, her character, everything is just so wonderful.