I should have followed my initial gut sense and avoided BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN), the DC Universe sequel to SUICIDE SQUAD, which was not a good movie either. BIRDS focuses on Harley Quinn, one of the ensemble cast of 2016’s SUICIDE SQUAD, a self-serving woman in Gotham City’s organized crime world. A former psychiatrist in Arkham Asylum, she has recently broken up with the Joker and sets forth wreaking havoc while fighting another crime lord, Roman Sionis (Ewan MacGregor). One main adjective comes to mind for me here: gross. Others quickly follow: vicious, cruel, and glorifying of crime, entitlement and sociopathy. I almost walked out of this hot mess of a show, with its intense, unrelenting violence and over-the-top crassness parading as humor. I was hoping that Ms. Quinn would get her comeuppance by, well, either becoming rehabilitated from her awful ways or getting imprisoned like a rabid animal that she seemed so much to act like. Her companion pet, not surprisingly, is a hyena, one of nature’s particularly vicious carnivores, inelegant and savage.
I did enjoy a few of the supporting ensemble cast members, namely Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), in that order. All three were sympathetic and evolved for the better to some extent or other in the story. I see Black Canary having an interesting origin movie of her own, if it’s not too violent. But, in this film, her superpower of a forceful super-sonic voice seems to suddenly come out of nowhere, tacked on as an after-thought, with no explanation of how this developed for her or that she even actually had such an ability all along. There are other occasions in the narrative that Black Canary would have likely wished to use it sooner than when she finally does. Yeah, not exactly good script writing.
I get that women-focused action movies are on the rise, showing how they too can rightfully join the ranks of being kick ass and mean like men in movies (and real life) have been throughout history. Now, it’s a free-for-all of gratuitous violence for everyone, as BIRDS OF PREY affirms. Great. I left the theater feeling battered after watching so much frenetic, bloody mayhem and from the movie’s morbid message being that crime can actually pay.
This is part of a whole series I will definitely not be following. Margot Robbie in the leading role and producer of the screen drama rose to the occasion, but I think she surely has better projects to occupy her time and talent.