It’s almost like DC needed to fail.
They needed the majority of their Extended Universe to fall apart so they could start doing the really wacky sh*t. I feel like this really started with Shazam! Yes, I’m somehow discounting Aquaman from this, because he didn’t ride a seahorse.
But Shazam!…while a fun family-flick, it was some wacky sh*t. A kid suffers from BIG problems, which comes with the caveat of becoming a superhero. This in turn sees Zachary Levi turn into a giant-muscle head with sparkle-fingers and honestly, it’s just WILD.
And Aquaman sort of talks to fish.
After her introduction in the 2016 “did it flop but it won an Oscar” flick Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn stood tall as one of the only good things about it (I still like you Will Smith‘s Deadshot), and apparently she FOUGHT to get a Harley film made.
And you know what, honestly bless her for doing this because I think she might have produced my favourite DC Comics film yet.
It’s open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her back. Unprotected and on the run, Quinn faces the wrath of the narcissistic crime boss Black Mask, and every other thug in the city. But things soon even out for Harley when she becomes unexpected allies with three deadly women; Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya.
Director Cathy Yan has shaped a film that not-so-subtly pulls our heroines together; Confetti-cannoned story-telling, strung together by exposition, action, psychology and references galore.
It is somehow the most and not enough.
Picking up off the heels of Suicide Squad, Harley (Robbie) and The Joker have split. I’m guessing as is the way with splitting from a psychotic clown who runs a criminal empire, she loses her ‘protection’ which sees a part of the Gotham underworld start to hunt her down; Notably Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).
This is where the exposition comes in, as the film jumps between a thousand different things to position the pieces on our chessboard of fantabulous. Because it is fantabuous.
Robbie has, and does, excel as Harley, but she’s given SO MUCH MORE character to work with this time; More flagrant in her bravado, intelligent with her mind, she’s also been training with John Wick apparently and holy sh*t, thank you to whomever decided to really lean into the action.
Jurnee Smollet-Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead stand toe-to-toe with Robbie’s harlequin of hate, with Bell’s Canary receiving a damn great amount of background. Winstead’s Huntress though, is left to the basics of her history. Also, they too kick so much a$$ so thank you to the old and new gods for this.
It’s great to see the return of Rosie Perez, but boy she isn’t used to her full potential. The counter-point to this is holy sh*t Renee Montoya now exists in the DCEU (IYKYK). Ella Jay Basco rounds out the motley crew as Cassandra Cain, who has a very interesting future ahead of her (Again IYKYK).
Ewan McGregor WORKS as Sionis, or the man who would be Black Mask. Scriptwriter Christina Hodson captures the duality of this character fantastically well, as he’s the mob-boss you wanna get drinks with, or the mob-boss you go into witness protection from! Also Chris Messina, yes that Chris Messina from so many rom-coms, is a f*cking mad-lad in this.
Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) is another great step-forward from DC. Entertaining the fact that their worlds are just weird, and allowing this to be, sees a wholly more organic film.
It’s just nuts.
It’s just Harley Quinn. Loud, fun, expletive-filled and bloody. She’s surrounded by a group who’ll gas her up, while narcotics and confetti explode in her face. A literal independent woman who finds herself on an adventure which she mostly causes because, hey, she’s Harley F*cking Quinn.
With what could quite possibly be one of the best action scenes of 2020, Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) was just a lot of fun. Most likely drawing comparisons to the merc-with-a-mouth, Harley's film is as riddled with bad words as it is with bullets.
Meta-nods to their universe, acknowledging it's not excluded, and with the likes of Shazam, Aquaman and Wonder Woman dictating the flow of the DCEU, I am absolutely looking forward to what happens next.
STEP ON MY NECK HARLEY QUINN!