Creating a spin-off to the much-maligned Suicide Squad film of 2016 was always thwart with danger. Yes, the Director’s Cut was ten times better than the theatrical release but sadly after the bad experience of the original not many people wanted to part with hard-earned cash to take a chance on the re-working.
Now that Suicide Squad curse seems to be tarnishing Birds Of Prey before it is even released. The film hadn’t even opened before some people were proudly boasting that they were going to give it a big miss. But are the negative comments geared towards the film warranted? I would have to say after sitting down to watch the film – they are not.
Aside from the fact the film features the intelligent but clearly psychopathic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie – Wolf Of Wall Street) comparing Birds Of Prey to Suicide Squad is like comparing chalk and cheese. Where Suicide Squad revealed a cheesy side Birds Of Prey takes the lead from its DC counterpart Joker and delivers a more hard-edged film complete with adult language and violence that is certainly not suitable for children.
Here we find a Harley Quinn who has settled into her new state of madness. Her world is rocked though when she and Joker go through a bad break-up. Now alone Quinn finds herself unprotected and suddenly even criminal low-life in Gotham wants her dead – led by the vicious and cruel Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor – Trainspotting). Also attracting the attention of an arrow-for-hire hit-woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – 10 Cloverfield Lane) and the down-beaten Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez – Fearless) Quinn soon finds herself needing the protection of the deadly Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell – Underground).
For the most part the film does hold up and is an entertaining action film enhanced by the acting talents of the Oscar-nominated Margot Robbie. The film is at its best though when it embraces its hard-edge. Scenes such as the one where Sionis is torturing a family for information is what sets DC apart from Marvel, likewise the early fight scenes involving Quinn and Lance which capture the same violence of John Wick have the audience on the edge of their seat.
Add to the that the suspense of never knowing whether Quinn will keep helping young pick-pocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco – Veep) while she is danger or eventually turn her over to claim the bounty, and the genuine comedic moments produced by Quinn’s madness and you are on the way to a pretty decent film.
Despite the moments of true enjoyment throughout the film Birds Of Prey does find a way to trip itself up. Like Suicide Squad there are moments when the film dips into that cheesiness that just doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. You could probably over look it more if it didn’t occur during one of the key fight scenes – what should be one of the most memorable scenes of the entire film becomes laughable as the stars battle it out in an overly choreographed fight sequence that almost feels like it needs the cheesy ‘POW’ and ‘BIFF’ text of the 1960s Batman series to appear after each punch or kick.
It is a shame that scene exists because it seems to stay with you after you leave the cinema and spoils what otherwise would have been a film that may have sparked a lot more interest in what DC plan on doing with these characters down the line. The fact that DC haven’t learnt that it is that kind of cheesiness and the sudden introduction of an influx of characters (as happens here with Huntress) is hard to fathom… especially in the same week they saw Joker score Oscar glory.
To sum up Birds Of Prey is a more than serviceable film. The performances of Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor do allow the film to occasionally have an edge to it. The events of the film also did make you curious enough to wonder where the storylines involving the actual Birds Of Prey team that form during the film may lead to the future, but the film also dangerously lets itself down with one badly played scene that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It is obvious what DC needs to do – they need to take stock of people liked about this film and take that on board for all future endeavours or else they are destined to keep making the same mistakes over and over.