The only gold nugget to be found in the turd that was the 2016 film "Suicide Squad," was Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn. Now that the character's been given her own movie, it seems that Harley Quinn can be filed in the "less is more" category. But don't blame Margot Robbie. Her Harley Quinn is a fun character trapped in a really bad movie.
RELATED: "Suicide Squad" review
Undercutting the "girl power" of it all, Harley Quinn (Robbie) starts the movie a complete wreck, and all because of a boy. She's just been dumped by The Joker (MIA for this adventure) and she's even more "off" than normal. She finds herself caught up in a completely fumbled, implausible story where a bad guy, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is trying to locate a diamond that has been - ingested - by a thieving pick-pocket, Cassandra (Ella Jay Basco). Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) is hot on their trail, and in the peripheral, there's a crossbow-wielding vigilante that goes by the name, Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Together they are...THE BIRDS OF PREY! Well I guess, kinda sorta. If this is supposed to be some sort of all-female super-villain/super-hero team, the movie wouldn't know it. The characters don't really ever come together until briefly towards the end, making the movie feel like a long walk to nowhere. Instead, we are given several characters that just pop in-and-out, never with reason or purpose. Including Quinn, each of these women's stories feel like separate threads that never quite weave together.
There are more problems with "Birds of Prey" than the overarching storyline. The characters themselves - save Harley Quinn - are all pretty generic and bland...only Ewan McGregor seems to know how to chew up scenery in a movie such as this. A shot out also to Chris Messina, who plays McGregor's top henchmen, Victor Zsasz, who is maybe the most interesting character in the entire movie.
And as mentioned earlier, Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn are not the issue...they are trapped in a hopelessly awful script, and are never given anything remotely fun to do or say. It's clear that the filmmakers think they are telling a cool, stylized story, but this is one film that is not nearly as hip as it thinks it is.
On the heels of "Joker" and even "Logan," R-rated comic book movies are on the verge of an evolution...but "Birds of Prey" is not on the cutting edge of this change. Sure, it flaps its wings pretty hard, but it goes nowhere, and it sure as hell doesn't separate itself from the competition.
It's a better world when a movie like this can be made: By females, about females, starring females, directed and written by females. But isn't this movie aimed at the same demographic as every other comic book movie: Adolescent boys and men? It's very disappointing that this character wasn't given more thought, instead of just thrusting her into this paint-by-numbers comic book dud...I mean, Harley Quinn could have been the anti-Wonder Woman franchise in the DC Universe, instead they take one trait of hers - the fact that she's crazy - and they exploit it, offering nothing new or anything at all that would make fans clamor to see her return to the screen again.
There's a lot to look at in "Birds of Prey," but very little substance...isn't that the exact opposite of what a female-led action star should be going for? This movie is pretty alright...it's pretty awful.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime.
Run Time: 1 hour 49 minutes.
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Ball, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco.
Directed by Cathy Yan ("Dead Pigs).
"Birds of Prey" opens in theaters on Friday, February 7th, 2020.
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