Film Critic Lewis is back with his latest edition. This time it’s Birds of Prey under the spotlight.
Despite making over $745 Million at the worldwide box office, 2016’s Suicide Squad was almost universally panned by both critics and audiences. Despite the awesome trailers, the movie itself was hopeless due to its unimaginative action, Jared Leto’s misjudged take on the Joker and a laughably bad CGI villain. Yet almost everyone did like one aspect of the movie, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. Robbie brought life and personality to the iconic accomplice and lover to the Jokerand it was a smart move by Warner Bros’ to capitalise on her popularity and base a whole new movie around her. Which leads us to Birds of Prey, as although the title of the film teases an avengers-like female squad team-up, this is still very much a Harley Quinn picture. It is Quinn who elevates this film and keeps it watchable and entertaining, but as an overall film it’s a bit of a mess, especially in terms of tone and storytelling.
After splitting up with the Joker, Harley Quinn is no longer safe from the enemies of her past and begins a life on the run. But when a target is set upon a young girl with serious pickpocketing skills, Quinn makes it her personal mission to protect her, especially from evil crime lord Roman Sionis(played by Ewan McGregor).
Margot Robbie is one of the best actresses working today, and it’s clear she has a great understanding and appreciation of this character and she makes for another fun performance as Harley Quinn. She narrates the film (though she’s far from the most reliable of narrators) and the film takes care with her character development, though the same cannot be said for pretty much any other character in the film. New heroes such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s The Huntress and Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary seem interesting, but we sadly don’t get much time with them at all and we’re left wanting more.
The story as a whole is in disarray, with too many plot-holes and niggles which the writers seemingly couldn’t be bothered to make any sense of, and worst of all there is a tiresome and needlessly over-the-top villain played by Ewan McGregor. McGregor seems to be having a hoot in his role but he doesn’t suit flamboyant, something this character was clearly meant to be and he just came across as annoying. He also doesn’t turn into popular villain Black Mask until late in the third act, and by then it’s too late.
What saves the film are some surprisingly slick and violent action sequences. Spread across the films tight 110-minute running time is some seriously entertaining set-pieces, brilliantly directed by relative newcomer Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs). The film gives off a strong John Wick vibe, with good wide shots and brutal combat sequences.
However, with these extreme action sequences it means the tone of the movie is all over the place. The film’s main demographic is obviously teenagers and it tries to appeal to them with some silly humour and Harley’s playful banter, but yet has a hero who breaks people’s legs and a villain who slices people’s faces off. I wish the film either played more to a 12A audience like its DC counterparts or just went all out in its 15 rating instead of trying to please both parties.
Verdict: A watchable and often entertaining superhero spin-off that will not be remembered as a genre great due to its poor story and rubbish villain.
Best Moment: Harley’s double leg breaker!