So we all know the abomination that was Suicide Squad, and I think we can all agree that despite the very VERY male gaze that was cast upon her the entire 2 hour and 17 minute run time, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the best thing about it. So when I heard that Margot was campaigning for a Harley Quinn spin off film with a female director, it did get me excited to see how this sexualised character could work with a woman’s idea of what was sexy and not a man’s. What we got was Birds Of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.
When Harley breaks off her relationship with the joker she relinquishes his protection initiating open season. With big bad gang boss Black Mask after her she uses his hunt for a priceless diamond to bargain back her life and soon becomes intertwined with 3 other badass women all trying to stop him too. They soon realise they must all work together if they have a chance of staying alive.
Despite it’s visually appealing style the film does take a while to pull you in story wise. The first quarter is quite possibly one of the choppiest, wordiest introductions to everything you need to know before a film can actually start I’ve encountered in a while. One of my biggest pet peeves in films is narration so I’m not sure if I’m being biased with this opinion or not. There are also moments where it seems to borrow from successful comic book film Deadpool such as fourth wall breaks and self awareness, which to me at least cheapened the experience a little bit. In saying that there are definitely enough moments within the start to pull you through so when the film finally finds its feet things start to get pretty engaging.
This film had some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen in the modern superhero genre to date. Whilst brutal at times the films creative use of the environments and props allowed for some really entertaining sequences. They also never abused the slow mo either using it to effectively enhance some stand out moments within the fights that had me both cringing with sympathetic pain and mouth agape in elation. The action in general successfully slots in and enhances the juxtaposing vibes of the film being quirky and colourful yet dark and merciless.
The performances in this film are also strong and sell this crazy Gotham underbelly flawlessly. Of course Margot Robbie as Harley is a stand out, but also Ewan McGregor as the villain Black Mask is just the right amount of psychotic, insecure, and creepy. The Birds of Prey, Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) & Detective Montoya (Rosie Perez) are also interesting characters and a refreshingly diversified team of powerful women I really enjoyed seeing kick ass together.
Even though young children should not see this film no matter how colourful and glittery it is, Birds of Prey does represent a healthier perspective on female sexuality based on confidence in oneself and not the pleasure of men. Harley is not necessarily the best kind of role model given her penchant for crime and just being a bit of a terrible human in general, but it’s hard to ignore the big part her character has played in female representation and male fantasy in media for many years. This film helps women reclaim a little bit of her for themselves.
The most positive thing though to come out of this film is that it is a mainstream action flick directed by a woman, produced by a woman, and staring multiple interesting and diverse women. Despite whether you enjoy Birds Of Prey or not its hard to argue against what an important milestone it is on the journey towards bringing gender equality in the film industry both behind and in front of the camera.
Birds Of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is in Cinemas NOW