MOVIE REVIEW: Birds of Prey – and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn
The ‘me too’ movement now has a comic book heroine on the big screen to champion the cause that women will no longer tolerate being put down by men, or are willing to remain a punching bag for testosterone-filled tyrants.
No-one messes with the female warriors of this film who smash, bang and wallop all the dastardly dudes who get in their way with a clear message that if the fairer sex unite they cannot be defeated.
The first reactions to Birds of Prey are in, and it appears many praise the film’s fight sequences, Margot Robbie’s performance as the lead character, and its overall creative flair.
That’s hard to dispute as there are strong performances by all the female characters. But, on the downside there were some unnecessary stomach-churning moments too, one broken leg episode, for example, is particularly sick in the old-fashioned sense.
In the Warner Bros Pictures film, Margot Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Ella Jay Basco also stars as Cassandra ‘Cass’ Cain in her feature film debut with a warming ‘orphan Annie-style’ delivery and she was certainly my favourite character.
Poor Harley, in the midst of an abusive relationship with the Joker, finds herself kicked out on to the streets and a target for all those fellas she’s upset in the past and a few more besides who wouldn’t touch her for fear of her connection with the arch villain.
After growing up as an unwanted child, getting beaten up at school by nasty nuns, hearing tales of the broken-minded as a psychiatrist and falling for a lunatic, it’s not surprising to find that she ends up as a psycho too.
And, perhaps it’s inevitable that she would team up with a cop, songbird and mafia princess, all damaged by men in one way or the other, of course, be it career-wise or through violence, to rescue a child thief who Gotham’s bizarre skin-peeling villain, crime lord Roman ‘Black Mask’ Sionis (Ewan McGregor), and his zealous right-hand, Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), want to capture.
Some of the plot is hard to swallow though. For example, when Harley, worse for wear after drowning her sorrows, looks about to be molested and is rescued by Black Canary in fearsome style, the scene is ruined by the consequence of the action. After watching her fighting, instead of hiring her as extra muscle, Sionis recruits her as a ‘driver’. I don’t get that.
That’s a poignant moment too when the one man Harley relies on prefers the fast buck than loyalty and she almost slips and puts self before sisterhood, but it’s a comic book drama, so obviously all’s well that ends well.
I thought I’d hate this, and had the tables been turned and it was a gang of men beating up women, I would have walked out of the cinema (I’m waiting for the barrage of abuse now from women, saying, that’s reality not fiction) but I kind of warmed to the entertainment as such.
It’s not going to win any Oscars but I wouldn’t mind nominating the canine that played Harley’s pet hyena, now that’s a character with plenty of bite.