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Birds of Prey Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert and FatCats Mesa! FatCats Gilbert and FatCats Mesa are the best places to see all of the latest box office hits like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Birds of Prey, and The Rhythm Section! To see all showtimes and to purchase tickets for the Mesa location, you can click right HERE!

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

I know Suicide Squad gets a lot of hate, but I absolutely loved Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and I can enjoy watching that movie almost exclusively because of the cast. Even though I love Robbie as Harley Quinn, I had some trouble getting excited for this movie. I didn’t love the posters or trailers, and I definitely didn’t like the title, but DC has been on a little bit of a hot streak lately. I liked Aquaman, then I liked Shazam! even more, then Joker became likely my favorite DC movie since The Dark Knight. I also think Margot Robbie is an excellent producer, which is amazing for how long she has been producing her movies, so I assumed she would nail it once again in this role. I just wanted the movie to hit as hard as I knew Robbie would.

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Birds of Prey is directed by Cathy Yan and stars Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Ewan McGregor. After a her break up with Joker, Harley Quinn is free from any sort of power telling her what to do, which leads her right to Black Mask, who plans to kill her now that she does not have the protection of Joker. Black Mask hates Harley Quinn, but she persuades him to allow her to find a young girl who stole a diamond that would allow anyone to control the biggest mob family in Gotham.

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

I was a bit scared walking into this one, but I’ll say that a good chunk of my fears were put away just a few minutes into this movie. I firmly believe that the best thing about Suicide Squad was Harley Quinn, and it seems like DC went right back to her in this movie, pushing her even harder, which is exactly what I wanted out of this film. I wanted Margot Robbie in the spotlight putting on an absolute show, and for the most part, that’s what this movie delivers. Margot Robbie is fantastic once again as Harley Quinn, and I think she has a ton of fun playing this character. That fun is so contagious, and when Robbie fully embraced Harley, I did, too. She’s by far the most interesting part of the movie, and they should have scrapped the title for a more “Harley-centric” one, but in the grand scheme of things, the title doesn’t really matter. I got the R-rated, no punches pulled Harley Quinn I wanted.

Ewan McGregor in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Just as Margot Robbie fully embraced Harley Quinn, it seems like Cathy Yan fully embraced the tone of this movie. It seems like she knew exactly what it was. It wasn’t meant to transcend the genre the way something like Joker does. It was meant to explore Harley as a comic book character in a comic book world while giving us an awesome female action lead. This movie never tries to push itself further than that, which can be a strength just as much as it is a weakness. It allowed a lot of the comedy to work for me, and it allowed a lot of the action to work with the comedy. Also, the action is really well directed and choreographed, which is why it didn’t surprise me to see that Chad Stahelski of the John Wick franchise involved. The action in this film isn’t on the same level as John Wick, but it’s beautifully directed and edited, and they used their R-rating extremely well.

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Where I do think this movie falls short is in its storytelling and its supporting characters, which sounds like a huge problem. It can be, but in the grand scheme of things, Margot Robbie, Cathy Yan and Harley Quinn won me over enough to lighten the impact of some of my issues. It never fully alleviates them, though. First, the storytelling can be pretty clunky. I adored the action sequences, but when the movie actually has to hunker down and get the story out, I think it struggles to be completely coherent, which is awkward in a movie that moves so quickly. The plot is constantly being pushed forward, but it doesn’t always get the chance to establish itself before moving on, and a lot of non-linear style storytelling made me question exactly what was happening, only for those questions to be answered 20 minutes later. I do think a lot of that has to do with Harley Quinn being the narrator of the film, as a character who’s romantically involved with Joker and opens the film by blowing up a chemical factory can be a little bit scatterbrained, but that doesn’t really excuse some of the issues I had with the way the story was structured.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

I also would have loved some more character depth from every single supporting character. I’m on board with Harley, and I’m glad she has as much screen time as she does in this movie. She’s an absolute star, and Margot Robbie has the screen presence to match, but I would have loved to have seen more from characters like Huntress, Black Mask, Black Canary and Renee Montoya. Every single Bird of Prey deserves her own movie to be honest, and I wanted to know so much more about each of them. Unfortunately, the movie left me pretty cold in that area. I also wanted more from Black Mask. Ewan McGregor is awesome. He always is. He fits the tone of this movie, and his performance always snatched my attention when he was on screen, but there just isn’t much to his character other than that he’s a pretty terrible guy. There’s actually a cool recurring visual gag the movie uses to show each character’s beef with Harley Quinn, and I actually wish they would have pushed his a bit further or showed more rather than simply writing out all of his bad qualities in words.

Ewan McGregor, Chris Messina, and Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Overall, Birds of Prey is mostly enjoyable movie that knows exactly what it is and how to use its main character. While I don’t want to say that Margot Robbie was born to play Harley Quinn because I think she already has better, more memorable performances under her belt as other characters, she’s the best fit for Harley. Her screen presence and charisma sold me and made me sympathize with a character who is a psychopath by all accounts. She’s not the best person, but she’s a heck of a lot better than Black Mask, and Robbie is endearing, charming and funny enough for me to join her side. This movie is also really well-directed, and I can’t wait to see what Cathy Yan has in store for us next. I wasn’t familiar with her work prior to this movie, but I thought she did an amazing job with the action, the tone and the main character. 2020 is bringing us four superhero movies directed by women, and I think Yan showed us how valuable it is to have a different voice in the director’s chair, especially for a character like Harley Quinn. The storytelling is quite clunky, and it raises a lot more questions than it answers in a timely matter, which actually turned me away at a few points. I also would have loved more from the supporting characters, who are really flat. It’s a shame because they have such a high ceiling, but they aren’t given enough in this film to satisfy me with character depth. I still enjoyed the movie a ton, and I think it’s a big step up from Suicide Squad and another hit for DC’s new spiritual universe. I’m going to give Birds of Prey a 7/10.

Margot Robbie and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Will you be seeing Birds of Prey? Comment down in the comment section to let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]