Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is, in a word, incredible. This film is a spin-off of Suicide Squad. It follows the ragtag adventures of the Joker’s sometimes better half, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), as she teams up with Helena Bertinelli/Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). Their goal is to save Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basko) from Gotham City crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).
The film opens with Harley narrating the events of her life up to the point when the Joker ended their relationship and threw her onto the streets of Gotham City. Harley’s off-key, amusing narrations are interspersed throughout the production. Harley goes about reinventing herself following the breakup, but trouble soon arises. With her projected status as the Joker’s lover stripped away, everyone and their brother is out to get Harley.
Through a course of events, these women team up to save a young girl and highly-skilled pickpocket Cassandra from Roman, who has put a bounty on her after she stole a diamond that’s embedded with account numbers to the fortune of the long-ago massacred Bertinelli crime family
This was supposed to be the first in a series of films, but poor ticket sales have left its future in limbo. Produced on a budget of $82-100 million, Birds of Prey was expected to gross $110-125 million in its opening weekend. Instead, the film only made $79 million. It finished first at the box office in the United States but was still the lowest opening for a DC film since Jonah Hex in 2010. According to Variety, Birds of Prey needs to gross $250-300 million to break even. This series has so much potential, and it would be most unfortunate for things to not continue on past a single film. Here’s to hoping we at least get a sequel.
Birds of Prey is a compelling juxtaposition of hilarity and over-the-top violence, with bits of reality thrown in for good measure. Robbie did a great job researching the character of Harley Quinn, turning in a bold and authentic performance. The chemistry between the characters was excellent, and I enjoyed seeing Harley and Cassandra’s relationship steadily grow as the film went on.
Campy as hell, Birds of Prey is highly reminiscent of the ‘60s Batman television series as well as the Batman films before Batman Begins, when filmmakers decided to go at things with a more severe and realistic tone. I truly appreciated the lighthearted, irreverent nature; vibrant, high-energy action sequences; and strong female characters.
I give Birds of Prey four stars.