“Birds of Prey” cast photo from Flickr
Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer
“Birds of Prey” isn’t exactly your standard superhero movie. For one thing, it’s got a mostly female cast, which is a nice break for a genre whose casts tend to look like a dude ranch in spandex.
But what really makes it stand out is that it doesn’t try to follow the superhero genre. Instead, it feels more like a blend of a crime drama and an R-rated girls comedy.
The movie is seen mainly through the eyes of, and sometimes narrated by, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), a lovable criminal nutjob who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, the Joker. It’s a huge adjustment for Harley, who suddenly finds herself struggling to fly solo for the first time in a long time (adopting a hyena in the process), especially since she’s pissed off almost every criminal in Gotham, including crime boss Roman “Black Mask” Sionis.
Black Mask, played excellently by Ewan McGregor, makes for an intimidating villain, charming one minute and savage the next. I think he’s the first gay villain I’ve seen in a comic-book movie, and McGregor makes it an interesting touch.
He despises Harley, but offers to spare her life if she can find Cass Cain, a pickpocket pre-teen who swallowed a valuable diamond he badly wants. Harley busts Cass out of jail the only way she knows how: an awesome and hilarious montage of fighting cops and convicts that’s borderline ridiculous (exploding bags of cocaine are involved of course).
This then puts Harley on the warpath of Reene Montoya, a tough-talking, down-on-her-luck detective, hoping to bring down Black Mask. No character is flat: their motives and methods may be questionable, but they delight the audience with personality.
Cass doesn’t really trust Harley (or anyone, for that matter), but the pair soon hits it off, a nice thing to see for Harley, who shows a selfless nature hiding under her zany bad-girl style. Eventually the pair meet up with Montoya alongside two other women Black Mask has wronged, ex-criminal Black Canary and crossbow-wielding vigilante Huntress, uniting against a common enemy in badass style (it seems almost fitting that the final fight scene takes place in a carnival funhouse).
Even if Marvel and DC aren’t really your thing, it’s hard to imagine someone not loving this action-comedy that maybe could have been a little more serious. But perhaps an open mind and a love for the uncanny is just what it takes to get these “Birds” off of the ground.