A Deranged Spice Girls Movie | BIRDS OF PREY – Review

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"A Deranged Spice Girls Movie | BIRDS OF PREY – Review"
L to R – Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, Ella Jay Basco and Jurnee Smollett-Bell star in BIRDS OF PREY | © WB/DC 2020

Whether David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD (2016) was good or not will forever be debated. Whether its cast was good or not will forever be debated. However, admit it, its “special attraction” was Harley Quinn. Not that she carried the movie, but she’s the only character I recall people talking about. Love her or hate her, Margo Robbie was a topic, and as Harley Quinn was a vibrant sight among its ensemble. Her colorful, quasi-charming and chaotic appeal is what made the movie sort of tick, tock, and whatever falls in between. Also, her dysfunctional relationship with the Joker (Jared Leto) helped sprinkle fairy dust on an obvious push to place a spotlight on Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Sh*tty NY accent aside, she was fun to watch, right?

I guess, because here we go again. Four years later, Robbie returns to reprise her role as Harley Quinn (and as producer) for DC’s BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCINPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN). Yes… that’s the title!

It doesn’t necessarily pick up after SUICIDE SQUAD, but BIRDS OF PREY shines a different light upon Gotham. One that entails vigilance from HQ’s point-of-view. Only this time, it’s open season on Quinn. Her unpredictable life has spiraled even more out of control following a break-up with the Joker. Therefore, for the first time, she’s prowling around unprotected with every thug in Gotham after her, starting at the very top with crime lord Roman Sionis a/k/a Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). But with an unexpected assist from three very unlikely sources—Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) —Harley and her newly contrived kliq just might survive an array of insanely wild and potentially deadly scenarios.  

Truth is I don’t know where to start. This movie isn’t going to be for everyone. The way this movie replays in my head is basically the delivery I saw on screen. For starters, you know you’ve been lured into some craziness when opening narration by Quinn ends along the lines of it’s her story, so she’ll start wherever she fu*ken wants. Not verbatim, but it runs along that kind of attitude.

Written by Christina Hodson (2018’s BUMBLEBEE), the game-plan is girl power front-n-center! No pulled punches. No damsels in distress. From start to finish, the allure of its female cast is meant to unapologetically give the finger and present a setting of strong women pushing buttons of bravery and power and control under the most uncertain of circumstances, mainly perpetrated by men. The focal point being Harley Quinn, of course. Hodson breaks the narrative down with a lot of handholding. It’s idiot proof. (You’ll see.) Perhaps done for emphasis, but it clearly sheds detailed light on all storylines paving a road towards the inevitable unification and climactic throwdown.

BIRDS OF PREY is messy, but entertaining. There’s an appeal to this piece that seemed familiar. Then it hit me: “I’m watching Deadpool!” There’s fourth-wall breaking, harsh jokes and it’s a hard R, too! You name it… crazy action-sequences, sexuality, violence, F-bombs, etc. It’s interesting to see the approach that was taken with this piece. I’ve never read a Harley Quinn comic before, but I know she’s a bit raw. When it came to Deadpool… I always knew anti-hero, misbehavior was his thing and it translated well from comic book to movie. Therefore, a) Maybe Deadpool success inspired execs over at WB? Or b) Maybe Quinn comics are as blunt in behavior? I don’t know. What I do know is this isn’t your ordinary comic-book movie designed for kiddies. Parents, you’ve been warned. Don’t start whining about it when your little sex trophies are lost in this storm.

The movie starts off jumpy and incoherent, but pieces itself together as best it can. Its multicultural display of characters and joy ride of lunacy allows it to be fun.  Especially during a wild scene involving a motorbike, skates, and a car! (The highlight of the movie for me,) BIRDS OF PREY does what it needs to do in order to make its mark among a universe that’s been riding a seesaw of acceptance. In the end, you’re the judge and jury. The whole movie is meant to play itself out in form of Quinn’s erratic persona. All characters lived up to their objectives as best as the story allows to them to. While I felt they could have spent some more time fleshing some characters out, at a little under two hours, it tried covering as many bases as it could. BIRDS OF PREY won’t go without backlash. I can hear it and read it already. For what it’s worth, deprived of entertainment you won’t go without. It’s a rough and rugged addition to DC’s slate. To a degree, it can also serve as social commentary. In the end BIRDS OF PREY is ferocious feminism at its hardest core.  And with that said, stick around after credits. There’s more! 

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Genre: Action-Adventure, Adaptation

Rated: R

Run Time: 1:49

Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ewan McGregor

Directed by: Cathy Yan

Official Movie Website: https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/birds-prey

© WB/DC 2020