“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn)” is directed by Cathy Yan. Yan is the second woman in history to direct a U.S. Superhero film following Patty Jenkins & 2017’s “Wonder Woman”. The films stars Margot Robbie who reprises her role from 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and becomes the main character in this spinoff/stand alone film and also connects to Warner Bros’ DC Cinematic Universe. The film also stars Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina & Ewen McGregor. Stock footage from “Suicide Squad” is used to bring Jared Leto as “The Joker” and Jai Courtney as “Captain Boomerang”. Though he is mentioned a number of times throughout the film, there is no on screen appearance from Bruce Wayne or The Batman.
After the events of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn (Robbie) has cut ties with “Mr. J” himself. In a shocking twist, Harley becomes Gotham City’s public enemy #1. One of the city’s biggest crime bosses, Roman Sionis a.k.a “Black Mask” (McGregor) decides to kill Harley as a direct message to The Joker. To spare her life, Harley must return a special diamond to Roman that was stolen by a young girl, Cassandra Cain (Basco). Detective Rene Montoya has a case building to bring down Roman but is sidetracked when Cain gets involved. Roman’s bodyguard, Victor Zsasz, (Messina) and his new driver, Dinah Lance a.k.a “Black Canary” (Smollet-Bell) are also looking for Cain. During everyone’s search a Cain, a vigilante of revenge known only as The Huntress (Winstead) has been tracking Zsasz and ends up in this web. As everyone is about cross paths, a bigger picture comes to fruition and despite being a criminal Harley takes on the role of anti-hero to spare someone else’s life rather taking it.
Rather than adding a new character or movie to their cinematic universe, Warner Bros’ just remade Suicide Squad from a different point of view and new characters and storyline. This movie was a major disappointment based on the fact of the title of the movie. “Birds of Prey” is 3 female heroes, Black Canary, The Huntress & Batwoman. All those characters are in this movie but are not front and center. They take a back seat to Harley Quinn and have very little characterization much like the villains in Suicide Squad. Basically, a Birds of Prey movie without the actual Birds. Margot Robbie was the standout in Suicide Squad and really give a great performance here as well. She really embodies the character and brings it to life. Smoker-Bell & Winstead are also great. The movie falls apart cause of a misleading title, a generic storyline and unappealing villain. Ewen McGregor is a great actor but he gives a horrible performance as the main villain. Way over the top and not the same character as the comic to where Harley Quinn is and steals the show. They basically are trying to turn her into DC’s version of Deadpool. The action sequences and visuals are very good but don’t make up for the bland storyline.
Overall, I saw what WB tried to do. Margot Robbie, who became a major star following Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street & Focus, became WB’s cash cow and they decided to give her own movie. Where they messed up is the title. They could’ve just kept it the way it was and called “The Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn” or even just “The Harley Quinn Movie”. It wouldn’t have made a difference to the movie overall and the excitement and anticipation would’ve been a lot higher and probably better received instead WB changing the name a week after the release.