Bird of Prey

By Andrew McManus

Bird of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewin McGregor

Runtime: 109 minutes

Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug use.)

Back in 2016 Suicide Squad was released. It featured a ragtag group of anti-heroes. The main highlight of that film was Harley Quinn (Robbie) and not much else to write home about. Ironically there are making a sequel/reboot of that film but what we have in this week’s review is a spin-off. This film centers on Harley Quinn and the “Birds of Prey.” I’ll warn you. This review will be shorter than normal. The film is so plot heavy I can’t discuss too much or it will be ruined. I will say that acting is either great or AWFUL. The fight/chase scenes work. Everything else…’ll see.

Onto the film.

We open with Harley Quinn’s (Robbie) backstory. It’s an animated short that catches the audience up on who she is. We then see that the Joker has dumped her. She is going through changes. Cuts her hair. Gets a hyena. Joins roller derby. Spends her nights in a nightclub. This nightclub in particular is run by Roman Sionis/Black Mask (McGregor) He is a sadistic crime lord that as Joker has said in previous films, “just wants to watch the World burn.” I’m a big Ewan McGregor fan. I’ve enjoyed him in Moulin Rouge! And obviously the Star Wars prequels. He was not good here. His portrayal of Black Mask is over-the-top and honestly comes off as annoying. The same can be said for his henchman (maybe lover?) Victor Zsaz. (Messina) It hurts the film when one side of the story the characters work and the other they fall flat. Takes you out of the film and makes you wish they would have worked on the script more or took a breath to polish it up.

We then meet Detective Montoya (Perez) has she is investigating a string of murders from a crossbow wielding assailant. In one crime scene, she finds Quinn’s necklace and then is after her. The chase in on.Throughout the film we meet the heroines of the Birds of Prey. Obviously Harley Quinn is the ringleader. We also meet the Huntress (Winstead) and Black Canary (Smollett-Bell) both of these characters mesh well with Quinn and the trio packs a punch. Once the characters are introduced the plot falls into the cookie-cutter chase plot. A young woman steals a diamond and Black Mask and his henchmen are after her. I had high hopes for this film and once the story settled in I realized this was just NOT a good film.

The pacing worked to a point. At the same time, the story would jump back and forth between timelines and actually tell the audience “Hey wait, I need to tell you this thing that happened a while ago.” Cuts back to that and then back to the present story. It was trying to come off as cute but like McGregor’s portrayal it was just annoying. I will give credit to Margot Robbie’s acting. She is PERFECT for this role. Obviously fans love her, which is why she has her own film and she shines here as well. You truly feel for the character as she goes through the heartbreak of losing her love but unfortunately the bad out way the good in this one. The fight needs are nice to look at the film was extremely colorful which I appreciated. Our trio of heroes and Detective Montoya all work well together and at times against each other but anytime the movie picked up steam something cheesy. OVER THE TOP cheesy would happen and I could hear people in the audience groaning. There haven’t been many films I was ready for them to end as soon as it started but this one was one of them. I’d suggest waiting for Netflix/Redbox. I believe 1917 is still showing at Portsmouth Cinema. Go give that a view if you haven’t already. 1 ½ stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL

By Andrew McManus