Film Review: Birds of Prey

I shoulda listened to my gut.

A while back I saw the trailer for this flick and I thought “yeah, that’s not something I want to see” and decided I’d let WoM go without me for this one. However, today I went with her and some friends because I’d heard fairly positive things and, frankly, I’d forgotten that the Wales game was on. In all honesty, I regret not staying home and watching Ireland beat us. It would probably have been more fun.

birds of prey

This movie is subtitled “and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn” and therein lies the problem for me, this is basically a Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) movie with a bunch of other DC characters thrown in the mix. The Birds of Prey comic book team were kinda cool, a collection of DC’s street level female characters (Batgirl/Oracle, Huntress, Black Canary etc) who teamed up, here they’re just randomly thrown together to help Harley Quinn get over her break up, or something.

The plot goes like this- Harley is dumped by the Joker. In the aftermath of this she realises that it’s now open season on her as she’s been running around Gotham City being a dick and only escaped retribution because everyone’s too afraid of the Joker. Basically, she’s like those fish that stick to Great Whites, nobody messes with them because they’ve hitched their wagon to a big fish.

It’s kinda hard to sympathise with Harley because, well, she kinda has it coming. We’re shown her basically doing whatever she likes knowing that she’s protected, and then forced to deal with the fact that the many people she’s wronged are now coming for payback. Anyway, chief in the running to take her out is Black Mask (Ewan McGregor, who is clearly having more fun performing than I did watching him), who is tired of her BS.

Harley does a deal that if she can retrieve a valuable diamond for him he’ll let her go. The diamond has some info etched in it, or something, I stopped caring. The diamond has been nicked by a young pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who then swallows it. Harley busts the kid from police custody, and then decides to look after her because Black Mask has put a price on her and will probably cut the diamond out of her.

Also in the mix is a crossbow wielding hit woman, a nightclub singer who’s mother was a vigilante and a female detective who gets suspended for, well, going after people with no evidence and stealing things from a crime scene.

The film is narrated by Harley because clearly someone watched Deadpool and thought “we’ll have some of that” the problem is that Robbie doesn’t have the humour or charisma of Ryan Reynolds. Her performance feels incredibly forced and unnatural, and I found Harley Quinn incredibly annoying. There’s this kinda self conscious quirkiness that we’re meant to find charming or funny, and I just didn’t. She’s a morally suspect character who doesn’t show much growth beyond realising that she can be a d**khead psycho without the Joker. Yay!

Incidentally, Jared Leto’s Joker never appears, which is a small mercy.

Halfway through I went out for a pee and I was sorely tempted to go grab a coffee and take my sweet time going back in.

The supporting characters are painfully underwritten and poorly served, and while there are a couple of nice touches (the Huntress is handled quite funnily, with gags about nobody knowing her alias and her own awkwardness at times, but you feel Mary Elizabeth Winstead is wasted).

The finale is laughably bad, with Ewan McGregor’s character blown up in one of the quickest, least satisfying villain defeats in recent memory. I actually said “is that it?!” at that point.

The film does a lot of “girl power” posturing, but they feel hollow. Having McGregor do a speech to his goon squad that begins “Men of Gotham” is painfully heavy handed.

I didn’t care about Harley and the film never takes the time to explore the other characters.

The DCEU had been going up in my opinion, but this goes right near the bottom of the deck with Suicide Squad in a movie that seems to think it’s a lot cooler than it is. The end credits were a blessed relief and I was out of my seat like a flash.

Early shout for my least favourite movie of the year.

The soundtrack’s alright, and like I said, The Huntress shows promise.

Verdict: 2/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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