"Female-Centric Superhero Satire"
What You Need To Know:
Margot Robbie does a entertaining job as Harley Quinn, as does Ewan McGregor, who plays the crazed Black Mask. The script is laced with lots of humor and action. However, BIRDS OF PREY has abundant foul language and constant violence. In addition, some of the violence is extreme. BIRDS OF PREY is fairly entertaining, but the foul language is decidedly excessive, the plot is a little convoluted, and the story needs a more uplifting and positive foundation.
BIRDS OF PREY is a violent, satirical thriller about the former lover of the Joker, a female criminal named Harley Quinn. Harley becomes the target of an evil gangster and must bargain her way out of the mess that involves finding a diamond having information leading to a vast hidden fortune.
The movie stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, the Mad Maid of Mischief. Narrated by Harley, the story opens with Harley unable to convince anyone she broke up with the Joker. So, she blows up their favorite rendezvous place, the Ace Chemical Plant. The explosion draws the attention of female detective Renee Montoya, who was passed over for promotion when her male partner stole the credit for solving a big crime. Also, however, without the Joker’s protection, Harley now becomes the target for every person in Gotham City that she ever wronged. One of the angry victims is a vicious gangster named Roman Sionis, aka the Black Mask.
Roman is trying to take over all the organized crime in the city, but he needs more funding. A diamond owned by another gangster, who’s now dead, has secret information embedded within it that reveals the location of the dead gangster’s vast hidden fortune. Happily for Roman, his righthand man, Victor, has found the diamond. Unhappily for Roman, a talented teenage pickpocket named Cassandra took the diamond from Victor’s pocket and is now sitting in a police station.
When Victor captures Harley and brings her to Roman for elimination, Harley overhears them talking about the diamond. She makes a deal with Roman to let her live, in exchange for giving her a chance to bring in Cassandra and the diamond. If she fails to get the diamond him, he can kill her then, she tells him. Roman agrees, but when Harley leaves to get the girl, he puts a $500,000 bounty on Cassandra and the diamond to give Harley some “incentive.” So, Harley must now compete with every bounty hunter in town.
Margot Robbie does a spirited, entertaining job as Harley Quinn, as does Ewan McGregor, who plays the crazed gangster Black Mask. The script is laced with lots of humor and action. However, BIRDS OF PREY also has abundant foul language and constant violence. Some of the violence is extreme and includes things like breaking people’s legs and an assassination massacre of a gangster’s family.
BIRDS OF PREY is also set in a dark criminal world. As a character, Harley Quinn has few moral scruples and pays little attention to laws and social norms. However, she befriends the young pickpocket and apologizes to her when she wrongs her. “You make me want to be a less terrible person,” she says in one of the movie’s biggest laughs. Of course, Harley’s character is set in the world of the Batman comic books and Gotham City, a world that’s usually been darker than other superhero comic books.
Strangely, the title BIRDS OF PREY doesn’t really refer to Harley Quinn at all. That title belongs to a group of female heroes who fight crime in Gotham City. In the DC comic book world, the female heroes include Barbara, the daughter of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, Batman’s friend, a character named the Huntress, and the Black Canary, a longtime DC Comics female hero identified with a woman, Dinah Drake, and her daughter, Laurel Lance. In the iteration here, Harley Quinn must team up with Detective Montoya, Dinah Lance aka the Black Canary and the Huntress when the Black Mask and his henchmen trap them and wants to kill them all the women for helping the teenage pickpocket, Cassandra. A short epilogue narrated by Harley Quinn reveals that Montoya, the Black Canary and the Huntress will form a crime-fighting group named Birds of Prey.
Of all the female characters in this movie, Harley Quinn is definitely the best developed. The other female characters seem a little too under-developed. Also, the Black Mask’s henchman, Victor, is not very well developed either. The movie suffers a little bit because of this. MOVIEGUIDE® doesn’t think, therefore, that BIRDS OF PREY will have as strong a fan base as other DC Comics-inspired entertainment such as the recent WONDER WOMAN movie or the GOTHAM TV series, which excelled at creating well-rounded versions for many iconic comic book characters. For example, in the GOTHAM series, Anthony Carrigan made a more menacing and more formidable, not to mention super creepy, Victor.
All in all, though, BIRDS OF PREY is fairly entertaining, but the foul language is decidedly excessive, the plot is a little convoluted, and the story needs a more uplifting and positive foundation.