The title should definitely say something more like ‘Harley Quinn (and something something)’ instead of Birds Of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) as this movie certainly starts with, follows and ends with the character of Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie). You could make an argument that there’s never a real team-up but I guess that’s more of a marketing blunder. The film itself is mostly just a colorful two-hour game of capture the flag but thankfully it’s as fully realised version of that as it can be. I mean who doesn’t love some capture the flag.
Take some notes productions and studios: this is how you do action scenes. There’s no need for brain-numbing cuts, close-ups of muscles or nothing but dark lighting. Birds Of Prey’s action is correctly shot, camera is locked into the right place all the time and the actors/stunt doubles get interesting stunt stuff to do (apparently Robbie does do a lot of them herself). I’d love to see this much work and care put into action way more often. Support system is also in place as the acting is all around solid: Robbie is once again perfectly in tune with the tone, Ewan McGregor (as Black Mask) is physically so extravagant in every scene while Chris Messina (as Victor Zsasz) and Rosie Perez (as Renee Montoya) get their roles down as soon as they appear on the screen. Director Cathy Yan clearly had a real vision for the film’s look and that pretty much leaks through the screen.
There are some moments in the scenes themselves where Harley breaks the fourth wall. This did seem unnecessary since it takes you away from the event that is the movie and they don’t add anything humor- or character-wise. It also almost becomes a double nuisance with the narration but luckily the narrating is less used as the film goes on. Whenever there is a 15-track soundtrack album attached, there’s a possibility of shooting yourself in the foot. The songs featured here however balance each other out as tracks like ‘Boss Bitch’, ‘Experiment On Me’ and ‘Lonely Gun’ are used well while ‘Joke’s On You’ and cover of ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ miss their marks. Even considering that there’s an unreliable narrator, the police station scene really seems out of place due to otherwise insanity that happens everywhere else (though the use of colored smoke and glitter does make you giggle).
Smileys: Stunt choreography, casting, directing
Frowneys: Fourth-wall breaks, pacing
Birds Of Prey isn’t out to hunt but it’s sparkly and playful (with the flag).