Birds of Prey: Flying High


Liam Heneghan, Staff Writer

It makes me immensely sad that Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is performing poorly at the box office. It’s bombastic, exciting, and above all its bold. Seriously, if there was ONE word I would use to describe this movie, it would be BOLD – all caps. The filmmakers never back down and take the safe road. I’m not sure if I’m a fan of every decision they made, but in a world where most superhero movies (and blockbuster films in general) are feeling a bit samey, I respect the hell out of a movie that’s making decisions in the first place, not to mention the panache those decisions are rocking.

The choice to make the film R-rated was incredibly risky, as it drastically reduced the number of people in the target demographic who could see the movie, but it allowed to filmmakers to really lean into the unhinged nature of the main character (there’s a scene where Harley breaks both of a man’s legs with a baseball bat), and was absolutely the right move for the dark comedy vibe they were going for; the breakneck pace of the tonal shifts matching the movies plotting, and the mental state of Quinn herself.

The choice to bring Chad Stahelski (he directed the John Wick movies) onboard to assist with the action scenes was brilliant, and I can honestly say that this film had some of the most off-the-wall enjoyable fights in any superhero movie I’ve ever seen hands down. I mean there’s a scene where Harley Quinn assaults a police station full of cops armed only with a shotgun full of confetti and paintballs – and it’s absolutely EPIC!

The performances here were all pretty solid, with Ewen McGregor delivering a cartoonishly evil portrayal of Black Mask, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead taking on the role of Huntress as a socially awkward revenge killer, but as with Suicide Squad, the standout here is absolutely Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Some roles are just meant to be. I don’t think that there’s a more perfect fit for a live-action Harley than Margot Robbie. She perfectly captures the manic scatterbrained energy of the character, and she looks like she’s having a blast doing it.

In the end, Birds of Prey definitely had its problems. The pacing in the first half was a bit wonky, Black Mask didn’t really have much character to speak of past that mustache-twirling bad guy bit and the team up at the end seemed really rushed – But all of that pales in comparison to the enjoyment I felt in the theater watching it all play out. The jokes were funny, the action was hard-hitting, and the overall sense of love and joy that went into the making of this movie couldn’t be more evident in the final product. I encourage everyone reading this to go out and see the film in theaters while you still can. I promise you’ll have an absolute blast, and the risky decisions made here deserve to be rewarded.