Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Truth be told, I did not like the Birds of Prey trailers. For me, the film looked too much like a Suicide Squad sequel rather than a film on its own, it gave me the impression that it would have been a one-woman show — Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn — and that it would be just another mediocre addition to the DC Extended Universe. And I would have skipped it — which I guess was WB's not so secret agenda considering the poor marketing — if it wasn't for bloggers I follow who adored it and, especially, men who desperately want the film to fail. To my delight, the only problem I had with Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn was the title because, yes, it is almost a one-woman show as I feared, but what a fantabulous show it was.

Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker have broken up. The problem is that her relationship with the Joker brought her power and gave her immunity in the criminal underworld, and now she's reluctant to let people know she's on her own. 

One night when drunk, she has the brilliant idea to blow up the chemical plant where she and Mr J became a thing. The message is clear, she no longer has the clown's protection and suddenly all the people she has wronged are after her, including club owner and gangster Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). To save her skin, she agrees to recover a valuable diamond which was recently stolen from Sionis's sadistic right-hand-man Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). The thief, however, is a teenage girl, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who not only is in police custody but has also swallowed the diamond.

In the meantime, Dinah Lance aka Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is promoted from club singer to Sionis's personal driver, detective Renée Montoya (Rosie Perez) is trying to build a case against him, and a mysterious crossbow killer (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is taking care of Gotham's gangsters.

Birds of Prey's story is fairly predictable and not entirely original as at its core has the same plot of Deadpool 2 — the anti-hero ends up protecting a tough kid and learns the value of friendship and teamwork in the process — but it is told in such a fun and unique way, through flashbacks and flashforwards and a playful voice-over narration by Harley Quinn that makes it consistently entertaining, engaging and exciting throughout. It is a great Harley Quinn origin story as we join her in the process of rediscovering herself after losing her identity because of the Joker, and at the same time provides a nice origin story to the Birds of Prey as well.

The story, however, is not the reason why I loved Birds of Prey as much as I did. That is on the characters, specifically Harley Quinn's. As Margaret from Cinematic Corner wrote in her review, the "problem" with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel is that they both are very kind and noble, and they are strange to anger which is why I, and many other women, couldn't connect with them. Harley Quinn, on the other hand, is a flawed and complicated woman. She is far from perfect and she has done a lot of wrong in her life, but she was also wronged. She still is a criminal and she still makes some bad decisions, but seeing her struggle with the inner conflict of being good or bad, along with learning the reason(s) of her going crazy, makes her a very sympathetic and likeable character.

As for the rest of the female characters, they don't have as much screen time nor development as Quinn, but they are memorable nevertheless, whether it's the smart-mouth pickpocket Cassandra, the badass Huntress (the crossbow killer) who gets a nice backstory, the hard-working detective, or the club singer turned heroine, Dinah Lance/Black Canary, who happens to be the most interesting one as we get to see her develop on screen as she goes from the simple club singer who minds her own business and tries to get by, to the fierce heroine she was meant to be.

The cast is a delight to watch. Margot Robbie is terrific as Harley Quinn, delivering a fun-filled and emotionally deep performance and perfect comedic timing, and captures the ups and downs of a broken person becoming her own to perfection. Jurnee Smollett-Bell wonderfully embodies the character while also killing it with a powerful vocal performance required by the role. Rosie Perez does a great job at capturing the 80s detective archetype the character of Renée Montoya is mocked for. Mary Elizabeth Winstead proves to be the perfect fit to play the Huntress, although she is, in my opinion, underused. Ella Jay Basco is a show-stealer and the chemistry she shares with Robbie is wonderful. At last but not least, Ewan McGregor is fantastic as Roman Sionis/Black Mask. His is the over-the-top kind of villain you either love or hate and I absolutely loved him. Not only the actor is having plenty of fun in the role — and therefore we have too —, but he captures both the menacing and kind of bratty nature and the fragility of the man to perfection.

Birds of Prey is also very eye-pleasing. The film indeed looks gorgeous with its colourful and psychedelic cinematography. The action and fight sequences are terrific — they are John Wick good. The makeup and costumes are wonderful — yes to Harley Quinn wearing high waist shorts instead of that low waist trash she wore in Suicide Squad. I'm yet to meet a woman who would wear those shorts —, and the set pieces jaw-dropping.

Birds of Prey doesn't hold back on violence, profanity and sexual jokes — they aren't (only) the crude jokes you would expect from a film with a male lead — but doesn't overdo it, and the result is a very humorous and funny film.

At last but Birds of Prey has one of the greatest soundtracks of all times and I am completely hooked. Not only it features only women and proves that you don’t need big male names to make a hit, but it fits the story perfectly as the music mimics the storyline and Harley Quinn’s development. These are not just captivating songs, they also have powerful lyrics — just think of Maisie Peters’s Smile “It’s my party, my body, my business” or Jucee Froot’s Danger “It’s 
an all-girl party and no boys can come”. 

Ultimately, Birds of Prey is a feast from start to finish. A gorgeous, emotional, vibrant and fun ride. A comic book film non-comic book readers too will love. Sure, it’s a bit chaotic but remember, we are inside Harley Quinn’s mind


  1. I'm hoping to see the film this weekend and give it a chance as I'm not happy with the criticism it's receiving from a bunch of whiny fanboys with sand in their vaginas.

    1. I hope you got to see it and enjoyed it as much as I did!

  2. I'm glad you liked this so much! I had a ton of fun with it. It deserves a far better box office than it is getting.

  3. Yaaaas! I'm so glad you gave it a go in the end. I'll never understand WB's decision to not market their own movie!

  4. I wasn't as big of a fan as you but I do think it deserves more attention, publicity and box office that it's got and is getting.

    1. It's truly embarrassing how WB treated/are treating this film. They showed the trailer like one time here in Italy. My brother even forgot about its release because of that.

  5. Nice review! This was so much fun. The cast is one of the best ensembles to come along in comic book movies. It's definitely a movie that the rest of 2020 has to live up to.