Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is an eccentric rush onscreen. She’s mind-boggling, occasionally heartwarming, and down-right fun to see, and when the action pumps up, she turns into a mess akin to a dynamite. But Margot holds down the gravity of her character to a range of volatility; this is a woman who enjoys a disaster and will definitely pull you in for it.
Birds of Prey focuses on Harley Quinn post-Suicide Squad, where Joker has dumped our lead. We watch her go through the ugly motions of change such as cutting her hair, drinking too much, and adopting a ferocious beast as she confides in us the story of how she got there. Robbie’s narration feels like a 3 AM conversation on the bathroom floor and you’re listening—really listening to her, because she’s crying, angry, and occasionally laughing all throughout.
And while the film mostly focuses on the lead, Yan occasionally diverts the camera to the second strongest parts of the film: the cast, comprising of Helena Bertinelli/Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), all equally outrageously hot and compelling in their roles, bringing a lot of color to the story. Even newcomer Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain is promising in the role.
Winstead, Smollet-Bell, Perez, and Basco are great individually as well as together. The film, after all, focuses on two things: the Birds of Prey and Harley Quinn, with both narratives intertwining all throughout, eventually realizing the necessity of one another.
McGregor is a blast bringing a type of joy into the role as Roman Sionis, a crime lord whose chemistry with right-hand man Victor Zsasz brings up the question of ‘Are they or are they not?’. But the occasional comedy doesn’t overshadow the terrifying acts that Sionis commits, making his performance disgusting as it is compelling.
The film’s colorful, glittered choreography doesn’t hold back in the glee of committing violent acts, but watching it unfold is definitely a rush. Robbie’s work as a producer brings wonders, including bringing in Cathy Yan to direct the film and Christina Hodson for the screenplay. It appears DC is finally working on embracing the eccentricities of their characters’ narratives. Allowing the right people to tell stories in their own terms brings a change in the role of comic book films in cinema.
Harley Quinn’s narrative doesn’t feel empty or serving anyone else but herself. She brings heart to the mess of it all, showering us in glittery violence, laughter, and the heart in doing the right thing after all. It’s something you’ll keep coming back to over and over again, and hopefully something to watch out for in the next line of films.