‘Birds of Prey’ is just fun enough

Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Directed by Cathy Yan

Could 2020 Oscar-nominee Margot Robbie earn another nomination next year for her off-the-wall portrayal of Harley Quinn in director Cathy Yan’s candy-coated and chaotic “Birds of Prey”? Probably not. Should she? Also probably not, but her performance is pretty fun regardless! The movie, though, bounces too quickly from one kickass display of femme-power to another for audiences to feel invested in the characters. While I’d love to recommend “Birds of Prey” with a full-throated endorsement, I cannot.

Fresh off her break-up with the Joker, Quinn (Robbie) is wanted by every major thug in Gotham. Without her protective boyfriend, every baddie in town now feels they can take her out. Plus, one in particular (Ewan McGregor) also wants a priceless diamond in the possession of a teenage girl. But with Harley Quinn playing den mother to the unfortunate pick-pocket, the bad guys won’t have an easy time taking them in alive.

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Despite Twitter’s obsession for Rosie Perez (I mean, she’s great, but I still don’t get it), the incredible talent of Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and a wild, off-the-rails Ewan McGregor, “Birds of Prey” doesn’t make the best use of the wonderful ensemble it assembled. Not much attention is paid to the characters, and too often an admittedly worthwhile fight scene is used as a crutch when nobody cared to fill us in on how they’re really feeling. It doesn’t even try to get us emotionally involved. We can pick on “Joker” for being a comic book-inspired Scorsese rip-off, but at least it worked hard to make us feel sorry for its main character (whether you bought into the effort or not).

What I can say is that “Birds of Prey” has some of the best fight choreography I have seen since last year’s “John Wick: Chapter 3.” If you get a kick out of bad guys getting their teeth kicked in, you’ll find plenty to love in this very standalone DC outing. Is the movie fun? Hell yeah. It’s just not that good.


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