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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Remember back in 2016 when everybody piled in on the disaster that was Suicide Squad? I was a card carrying member of the crowd who thought the movie was massively flawed, but reading my review back, it’s obvious that one of the very few things I did enjoy was Margot Robbie’s take on Harley Quinn. Clearly, that seems to have been the general consensus, so here we are in 2020 with another trip to that version of Gotham, this time focusing on Harley and getting rid of all the driftwood that made Suicide Squad such a disappointment. I went in cautiously optimistic about this one.

And ultimately, though it does fair better than Suicide SquadBirds Of Prey is still only ‘fine’ at best. In an attempt to free the character from her oppressive ties to the Joker, the film puts Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in the middle of things with her own Gotham centred narrative. After breaking up with her long time villainous beau, Harley’s protection is lifted and she suddenly finds herself the target of most of the city’s bad guys out for revenge.

Connecting at scheduled points with a number of other female characters in the universe including vigilantes the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), young pick pocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) and cynical police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), the narrative forms into a squad movie of sorts, with the women teaming up to fight off the movie’s main big bad, crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

Despite a promising set up, I think the fact that I can barely remember the movie even though I watched it mere days ago says everything about it. Birds Of Prey has a lot to offer in terms of fun action sequences and vibrant visuals, but at the end of the day, some of the technical choices that it makes prove to be its downfall. Chiefly, the decision to rely heavily on flashback scenes to establish the timeline doesn’t really work for me. Every time you feel yourself settling into the story and enjoying yourself, yet another jump in time occurs and you find yourself having to find a rhythm all over again.