Spoilers got me feeling like a psycho, psycho…
Dr. Harleen Quinzel has come a long way since Batman: The Animated Series where she was introduced back in September 1992, a creation of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, first. She would make the jump into comic book canon a year later. She first appeared on film portrayed by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad (2016), being the only character worth watching (and yes, I am including “Mr. J” in that lot). Now we finally get her in a leading role.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn was directed by Cathy Yen and written by Christina Hodson. Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken up with the Joker (thankfully, not in this film). She’s keeping that one for herself, knowing that as long as she’s the Joker significant other she’s literally untouchable. The secret slips out eventually and suddenly everyone who has a grievance against her is coming back for revenge. She’s also the untrustworthy narrator of this story, so expect everything to be played real loud, bright and with a lot of physical fractures.
Things get worse/better when new crime lord Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), loses a diamond to a street thief named Cassandra Cain (we’ll talk about the use of names and characters in a bit). Harley jumps at the chance to recover it and get some of the heat off her, but also on the hunt are officer Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Dinah Lance aka Black Canary (Jurney Smollet-Bell) and Helena Bertinelly aka The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
I know that people will have issues with the all the character interpretations. I know Cassandra Cain is the name of one of the incarnations of Batgirl. Black Mask is one of Batman’s foes. Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) is supposed to be a serial killer, not a mindless goon. But the way that DC has allowed its IPs to be used in this movie is simply allowing the movie to come up with their own interpretation. For the people that couldn’t stand Harley in Suicide Squad of 2016, I don’t think you’ll like her any better here. I have to say I particularly loved the socially awkward nature of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance of The Huntress.
It won’t work for everyone. Some people will find it bright, loud and annoying and to them it will be a nightmare. The dialog doesn’t always work, but the physical comedy and the fight choreography are more than serviceable. Even the cinematography is well done with colorful set design. As for the approach to the character, I saw Harley played as the trickster character of the DC universe in the same way that Deadpool plays that role in the Marvel one. Harley is irresponsible and reckless but ultimately she does choose to help the kid thief. Her narration is all over the place in a way that fits her style but it does eventually wrap up her loose threads. It works as long as you’re having fun, which I did.
Strongly recommended for the popcorn crowd, the casual action fantasy crowd and yes, even DC enthusiasts with a sense of humour. Potentially, you’ll see the lovely Harley wrecking up Gotham and you’ll find the humour in it. Margot Robbie truly steals every scene she’s in, and I know that her interpretation of Harley Quinn will not be for everyone. Still, she does embrace the character, has fun with it and does it all with a smile.
That will do for now.