A chaotic messterpiece with Harley Quinn at the centre of it all.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year ladies and gentlemen. The first superhero property of 2020 is out this week and it’s none other than a DC film, so that means it can only be good, right? Right!? Anyway on with our review of Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) or simply Birds of Prey.
Starring Margot Robbie returning as the iconic Harley Quinn Birds of Prey follows Harley after the earth-shattering break up with her puddin’ aka the Joker. She has to deal with the ramifications of now being a wanted woman as it turns out being the Joker’s main squeeze made her untouchable in Gotham and now people all across Gotham want a piece of good ole Harley Quinn.
One such individual is Roman Sionis a mobster with grand ambitions for Gotham. He is played with gusto by Ewan McGregor and you can tell he is having a blast portraying the eccentric egotistical crime boss. Roman has an unhinged nature that McGregor is clearly relishing in.
Along for the ride with Harley is a bunch of women from all walks of life but they all have one thing in common. They’ve been put down all their lives within the crime-ridden streets of Gotham.
Who are the Birds of Prey?
There is Montoya (Perez) a cop who can’t catch a break. Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) a lounge singer who tries her best to stay out of trouble. Cassandra (Ella Jay Basco) a young teen who can’t find a home but finds trouble very easily. Then we come to Helena (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a woman who wants vengeance for her lost childhood. Birds of Prey is filled with an ensemble of fascinating characters and each one brings their own flavour that is the dish director Cathy Yan serves to the audience.
What I loved about Birds of Prey (I loved it a lot) was the sheer level of chaos that director Yan brings to this world. This feels like the Gotham where there are villains on every corner and each of them has their own quirky and crazy backstory. The ones whose stories you get are interesting and the ones you don’t you are just as intrigued.
Birds of Prey from its score to its cinematography is chock a block of cartoonish delight and because of that it stands out among others in its genre. The score has such an intense and high octane sense to it that I couldn’t help but feel a wave of giddiness while Harley narrates over the events of the film.
Making the cinematography of Birds of Prey so impressive is the coupling of the insane fight choreography. This is where Birds of Prey elevated itself even further in my eyes because they brought in stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio and fight coordinator Jon Valera. The pair are members of 87Eleven Action Design, a stunt company created by John Wick co-directors Chad Stahleski and David Leitch. Watching the film, especially it’s climactic final act throwdown felt as genuine and brutal as any of the legendary John Wick films.
Chaos for chaos’ sake
There is a method to the madness of Birds of Prey but there are still issues that sadly stop this from being a knockout hit. The narrative structure of Birds of Prey is all over the place, much like Harley’s mind we are treated to a chaotic sequence of time jumps and if you’re not up for that well you will find it incredibly tedious.
The characters are great and you can easily pick your favourite from the bunch but not everyone is getting equal shots. An unfortunate standout is Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress. She’s seen sparingly for the first two-thirds of the film and in my opinion, I wanted more. I suppose it came down to me feeling like it was a waste of her talent and when everyone else has had more time and growth all I wanted was more Huntress.
When the dust and mania settle Birds of Prey is a film about the street level mugs and thugs of Gotham. Its menagerie of characters are bonkers, its score and cinematography match and this is what I like to call a chaotic messterpiece 🙂
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