December 8, 2021

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[Review]: Are Birds of Prey the answer to our prayers?

The introduction of Harley Quinn in the DCEU universe will be exhausting, but her translator Margot Robbie isn’t determined to leave the character behind. Four years after David Ayer’s feature film, Harleen Quinzel is back for a solo adventure, or nearly.

In Gotham, Harley Quinn digested her breakup with the Joker rather badly. If until now his relationship with the Evil Prince had granted him immunity, his separation announcement would redistribute the cards. To face her new foes, including the narcissistic Roman Sionis, the heroine must find allies.

This is a time of awakening for Harley Quinn. The heroine offers herself a new adventure under the direction of Cathy Yan, and after the tumultuous Suicide Squad, the director asks her to do the job. In this bold rewrite, David Ayer’s ultra sexual character rediscovers herself as a woman, strong and independent.

As the feature film’s title suggests, emancipation is at the heart of the story and tackles these themes rather subtly. If one doesn’t escape the heavy references – mostly musicals – the scenario distills the gist of it in a rather effective way. We regretted some of the sequences, like when Black Canary pushed the song in This is a Man’s Man’s Man’s World by James Brown. The film repeatedly addresses the principles of consent in the post #metoo era and assumes its feminist reach.

This is in stark contrast to Suicide Squad, not to mention the machinations introduced by David Ayer. The film chorus also chooses to feature new characters who are not without interest. Scenarios take some introduction time and cannot be ignored. The fates of the heroines are cleverly intertwined, until the meeting we all hope for. The first part of the film is very effective, and Harley Quinn’s first-person narrative is no stranger to it. The scenario plays back and forth to take us to the strange world of harlequins. The frenzy story is well constructed, even if it makes you dizzy at times. Unfortunately, on the other hand, the author does not exploit the character’s madness to mislead the audience. The story’s internal point of view offers many scriptwriting possibilities, which the story unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of.

“I’m a damn Harley Quinn”
On the casting side, Birds en Prey is no exception. Margot Robbie does very well and oscillates between dementia and lucidity, very easily. The actress’ acting and impeccable phrasing feature all scopes of comedy, in the Deadpool tradition. The film relies on absurdity to make us smile, and if the audience isn’t hilarious, Harley Quinn’s schoolgirl humor often hits its mark. Roman Sionis has also occasionally been the origin of some felt punches, highlighted by the talent of Ewan McGregor.

To embody “bad guys,” a term that has never had a more literal meaning, Warner called in a seasoned actor… and a great casting choice. The character’s soul is thoughtfully constructed, and the balance of power he maintains with women makes it possible to highlight emancipation, which is central to feature films. Finally, the character display is effective and pays homage to the paper character. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also excellent in the Huntress skin, while Jurnee Smollett-Bell struggles to break away from genre clichés. Rosie Perez and Ella Jay Basco also did very well, although they often fell behind. We’ll also highlight Chris Messina’s appearance in the second Black Mask skin, which offers another dimension to the film. On the other hand, we would like to explore its history a bit more.

Warhol Explosion
Without the visual slap, the film is a nice interlude in the alienated universe of the Joker’s ex-girlfriend. The film manages to build on its atmosphere and the director’s direction turns Harley Quinn’s adventures into a cartoon fairy tale, sometimes confusing. Sleek and ultra-colorful realization turns Batman’s dark Gotham into a massive retro night market, more in line with the character. For the action scenes, Cathy Yan called on Chad Stahelski, director and producer of the John Wick story. The fights are admirably choreographed and the camera pays homage to the spectacle that plays out before the eyes of a dumbfounded audience. The police station scene was undoubtedly the most successful, and allowed the feature film to rise to the rank of real action film. The slow motion sequences, which are a hallmark of filmmakers, take on another dimension and sometimes aim to make us smile. The only downside is the low-intensity soundtrack which adds nothing to the plot, if not the slightly overdone “cool attitude”.

In the end, if fthe film isn’t perfect, it’s everything Suicide Squad should have. The humorous and upbeat comedy is well-constructed and despite a few script shortcuts, Birds of Prey does well. The success of this feature film was mainly thanks to the tenacity of its lead actress, Margot Robbie, who despite a critical flop of David Ayer’s films, was not determined to leave the character to a sad fate. The DC Universe seems to be on the right track and that bodes well for the future. James Gunn will finish drawing with Suicide Squad in 2021 and we’re really looking forward to it.