Violent, darkly funny and hard as nails, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) soars in a brawling, bloody return.
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”) focuses on Harley, on her own now that she longer is partnered with The Joker.
Harley Quinn, based on a character from the DC Comics world, is known all over Gotham City for being half of a sort of Bonnie and Clyde pair of super-villains.
The movie opens with a wonderfully animated and brief telling of Harley’s history, including her terrible father and her professional career, when she met Joker.
Now Harley still grieves her abusive boyfriend, drinking with abandon and getting herself into all kinds of situations.
In the meantime, we see another relationship unfold. Crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) has hired Dinah/Black Canary (Jurnee-Smollett-Bell, “Hands of Stone”) to transition from being a singer in his club to driving for him.
Also on hand are:
• Cassie (Ella Jay Basco), a pickpocket who steals something everyone else wants.
• The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Wimnstead), “10 Cloverfield Lane”), an assassin with a crossbow.
• Renee (Rosie Perez), an alcoholic cop.
Harley eventually becomes the owner of a hyena. She finds she has few other friends; rather, most of Gotham seems to want her dead for reasons told with great wit in comic-strip-type panels.
Robbie was the best thing about “Suicide Squad” a few years back. That movie was rated PG-13. Under the marvelous direction of Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson, who gave us the marvelous “Bumblebee,” all this followup needs is its R rating to really cut loose.
The message? These women don’t need men to come and save them. They can do it on their own by working together, thank you very much. It’s the women who rescue each other.
Tone-wise, “Birds of Prey” has quite a bit in common with the also-R-rated “Deadpool.” It’s every bit as gritty and full of glorious imagery: Watch all the colors and eye-catching details that abound when Harley makes her way through a marketplace.
Harley is a complex character. She’s a criminal; she’s both cruel and compassionate; and most of the time, she is irresponsible. But she’s also a survivor with a keen mind.
Although this is not a Marvel production, I wondered whether it would have an extra scene during the credits or at the end. It does ... sort of. There are a few seconds at the end when an unseen Harley addresses the audience, stopped just she’s about to spill a secret about another well-known DC character.
It’s a nod to the sequel. And if it’s anything like this one, I can’t wait for it to fly onto the big screen.