Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)
Despite being average in quality and execution, I am absolutely in love with The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. The energy of the film captures the feeling of Harley Quinn while building action scenes that evoke her personality. While Birds of Prey isn’t for everyone, director Cathy Yan has pulled the trigger on a film that is specifically for fans of this unique villain.
Though heartbroken, Harleen Quinzel (aka Harley Quinn) is left to her own devices after a sudden break up with The Joker. The emancipated Quinn finds herself isolated in a world filled with an unlimited list of violent characters with grudges against her and a metaphorical axe over her head. Tormented by misogynists, victims of her untargeted crimes, and the police, Harley begins a race against the clock to recover a stolen diamond before her own time runs out.
Birds of Prey is abrasive right from the start. The character introductions are abrupt and mixed up in a narrative that jumps back and forth with ADD riddled glee. Floating from one plot point to the next, grasping onto a subject for as long as her damaged attention span can hold on, the story lives and breathes with Harley’s perspective. Even when the characters are shallow, narrative threads are lost, or the editing loses track of the action, it works in favor of making the movie feel like the embodiment of Harley Quinn’s personality. It’s delightful.
Despite the electric momentum of the film, its strong feminist politics will put off some viewers. This is a comic film, so it’s forgivable that the level of misogyny is downright cartoonish in service of allowing the viewer to indulge in Harley’s violent antics. It’s just easier when her outbursts feel a bit justified. Just be warned that the film has a clear, aggressive perspective that won’t work for everyone.
I just can’t close out without calling out the performances in Birds of Prey. Margot Robbie simply gets Harley Quinn. She brings the character to life with mannerisms that I cannot imagine her without. Ewan McGreggor is gleeful in his portrayal of a woman-hating Black Mask. Honestly, everyone is on point, but what I loved more than the performances was the collection of characters that I didn’t think I would ever see on screen.
Black Mask, detective Montoya, Zsasz, Black Canary, and The Huntress… it’s like a police line-up of some of the characters that I have always wanted to see included in a blockbuster movie. It just fills me with hope to know that more and more of the little bits that I loved about comics have hope of making it on screen.
Overall, I loved it. I had a blast and I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. If you ever loved Harley Quinn as a character, then this movie is for you.
|Final Verdict:||A film that perfectly embodies the soul of Harley Quinn.|