HOLLYWOOD─There were a ton of people out there that hated “Suicide Squad,” but I was not one of those people. I actually enjoyed the movie thoroughly and it was not because it had an exceptional narrative. It was because of standout, Harley Quinn portrayed by Margot Robbie. Robbie brought a level of chaos, manic excitement and just contagious energy to the move that was inescapable.
With that staid it was only a matter of time before the studio decided it was time for Harley to have her own spinoff, and that brings us to “Birds of Prey.” The question everyone wants to know is rather the movie works and I’m torn on that premise. Why? Sometimes characters need a standalone tale, in other situations not so much.
We have a great opening that chronicles Quinn’s love affair with The Joker, previously played by Jared Leto. He’s not relevant in this movie, as Harley does her best to step out of her lover’s shadows. What is the problem? We have a character who is extreme psychotic; so much to the point you ask yourself the question: where do you go when you reached all levels of crazy? I mean this woman’s excitement over an egg sandwich should say it all. This sets the stage for the narrative which revolves around a diamond connected to a ruthless crime family in Gotham who was loaded with money. That is where our villain, Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) makes his evil presence known in Gotham.
Roman preys on the idea of being crazy, but is far from it. Ruthless? Yes, threatening, not so much in my opinion. Harley discovers not being tied to the Joker makes her less of a threat to all the people that she screwed over, while with The Joker. In the process, Harley builds what I would call her own female army of bad a**es, hence the name ‘Birds of Prey.’ She barters a deal with Roman to retrieve that diamond from Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who has a penance for pick-pocketing people.
“Birds of Prey” is filmed with a level of chaotic camera work. I think that was intentional by director Cathy Yan, to showcase the mental instability of our lead character. However, I don’t think it’s as successful as the filmmaker suspects. Rosie Perez’s character as a good cop, who becomes a bad cop over a period of time felt like Perez portraying herself. Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s take on Dinah Lance is unlike one we’ve seen people, quiet, yet a force to be reckoned with, and there is also the introduce of Huntress aka Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the only surviving member of the Bertinelli family.
She has a score to settle with those who were responsible for murdering her family, when she was young. So we have our core group of women, all unique in their respective fashion, but the movie never gives us much more beyond that. It was missing that element to make the spectator actually care about their outcome beyond Harley. I mean her abilities to literally take out tons of thugs during a prison break is intriguing, but also raises the question how this one woman could do it all with just a shotgun or bat? Only in the cinematic universe can such a thing happen and we’re not expected to question it.
It was a nice change to see Harley show a vulnerable side to her character, but that takes away from the allure of a woman who is so insane, it’s impossible to describe her sanity. There are epic fights, fun stunts and plenty and I mean plenty of violence in “Birds of Prey.” Beyond that though, the movie doesn’t offer much more to make it memorable. The story works to a degree, but it is not anything that drives the audience to care that much after the credits start to role. Stay for the credits, but it may not give you what you actually want.