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There are very few opinions that achieve consensus in the comic book community – Suicide Squad being an abomination is one of them.
With a ridiculous amount of hype around the making of the movie as well as the mayor of melodrama Jared Leto involved, Suicide Squad sullied the name of DC comics, at least until the recent chain of excellent movies from the DC extended universe.
Building on the success of Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn tells a story that is both entertaining and emotionally satisfying to those who have watched Batman’s most famous supervillain abuse his girlfriend and biggest fan through the years.
The movie starts off with a cartoon-animated retelling of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)’s childhood and encounter with the Joker, all the way up to her final breakup with the killer clown. This is the first time we are shown that despite most of her depictions, she really has built herself up from nothing with the Joker being her fatal flaw…much like Suicide Squad the movie. Alright, that’s enough Jared jabs.
Right after the life recap, Harley goes on a break-up party spree involving the usual hallmarks of an ‘uncoupling’ including a new haircut, aggravated assault and a hyena named after her ex’s broody bat-crazy soul mate.
And she decides to finally and very publicly update her relationship status by blowing up Ace Chemicals, the site of her transformation into The Clown Prince of Crime’s princess.
As all the people she irked over the years are finally free to kill Harley, we celebrate her emancipation by diving into four interlocked stories as narrated by the former Miss Joker.
We meet our villain Roman Sionis (played by the ever enigmatic Ewan McGregor), a ruthless crime lord, who wants to take over the city. Yes, very original. Jokes aside, and trust me, there’s so many terrible jokes by Roman that I began to wonder if he was auditioning for the role of Mr Harley Quinn, Ewan always gives one of those performances you can never take your eyes off, no matter if he is the hero or villain. And his bromance with Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), one of the most sadistic and psychopathic killers in the DC universe, is hilarious yet nuanced.
We are also introduced to Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), the stereotypical cop who steals evidence, pursues the truth and kicks butt for breakfast. Black Canary, i.e. Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) gives a memorable voice to our crew, which is rounded off with Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and Huntress i.e. Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
The movie is predictable in some ways, but a re-imagining of the comic book universe in many more ways. While some parts are a slow burn, the action is much better paced and extremely satisfying to watch, with fantastically choreographed and entertaining yet gruesome fights.
Yes, there were plot holes. Yes, it sometimes seemed like a smoothie of moments kidnapped from the Marvel universe. And yes, character traits often seemed incongruent or altogether missing when compared to the comic books.
But it had surprisingly complex characters, beautiful fight sequences and a car chase with roller skates. It was fun, interesting and had just the right amount (none) of Jared for any Joker-related movie. For that last bit alone, it earns its four popcorns.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
CAST: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ewan McGregor
Directors: Cathy Yan
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime
Runtime: 109 minutes