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Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: February 7
Director: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie,
Ewan McGreggor, and
Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Rating: 4/5
Mister Marquee Says: A step in the right direction.
After the events of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) finds herself broken up with The Joker. Without Joker’s protection, Harley finds herself in the crosshairs of gangster Roman Sionis (Ewan McGreggor) also known as Black Mask. Roman is also hunting for a teenage pickpocket, which brings him into conflict with Detective Montoya (Rosie Perez) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell).
Suicide Squad was a truly awful movie, so Birds of Prey had its work cut out trying to carve its own identity out of that mess. It mostly succeeded. Telling the story somewhat out of order through Harley’s narration was a neat touch. The action scenes were exciting, and unlike previous DC films like Suicide Squad, someone bothered to turn the lights on so we could see what was happening. Seriously, somehow Warner Bros. and DC seemed for the longest time to not understand that a movie can be dark tonally without taking place in literal darkness.
Anyway, Margot Robbie is fantastic again as Harley Quinn. Robbie is such a charismatic performer it makes up for the general annoyingness of Harley Quinn the character. Harley is one of those characters who is better in small doses as a supporting player, and an entire movie centered around her, with Harley narrating, can be a bit grating. That being said, the character went on an interesting journey of self discovery, and it mostly lands. As annoying as Harley Quinn can be, Margot Robbie is such an awesome actress that she makes it work.
Ewan McGregor also stands out as Roman Sionis, a villain who can wildly swing between menacing, smarmy, cowardly, hilarious, and straight up unsettling. Imagine Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2 rolled in with Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds with a dash of Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs.
Birds of Prey isn’t a classic, but it’s a really solid movie and another promising sign of DC’s willingness to do something different.

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