That sure is a mouthful for a movie title and it also cleverly signifies this is a movie that cannot be taken seriously (not that we need a reminder when we see Quinn’s kaleidoscopic get-up and strange choice for a pet). Let me fire out all the puns first: these Birds not only do not soar, they stay grounded; I won’t be surprised these Birds lay a bad egg at the box office; these Birds are going into a tailspin; my fear of birds just got worse; these Birds won’t be ruffling any feathers; when Birds hit the hour mark my senses went on flight mode.

Okay… it isn’t as bad as what I made it out to be and it definitely isn’t the worse one from DCEU. I think Suicide Squad (2016) takes that unwanted honour. Out from that mess, Harley Quinn was the only colourful spot and the powers-that-be decides that she deserves her own spotlight.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken up with the Prince of Crime, Joker. She soon realises that the privileges accorded to her have been revoked and all guises of trouble come looking for her. Meanwhile, club owner Roman Sionis aka the Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) sends his henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) and driver Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to get a special diamond, but it lands up with pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Sionis enlists Quinn’s help with the promise of protection for her in Gotham City once the job is done, but her path is impeded by Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and driven cop Montoya (Rosie Perez).

A few minutes into the zany movie, my mind is throwing up Deadpool with the same off-the-fly expositions and storytelling that doesn’t adhere to a chronological timeline. It is alright to copy, God knows there practically aren’t many original stories anymore, but to me the borrowed idea needs to be taken to a different place. In the case of Birds of Prey, it just isn’t an interesting place.

The plot is outlandish, the characters cartoonish and the situations absurd. That is all fine because I can take a joke, but the plot is choppy and the story feels like a mess. At least it is a colourful mess. The action scenes also don’t escalate in terms of spectacle and ingenuity. The police station raid is oh-la-la fantastic, but the climatic one at the amusement park isn’t on par with the earlier ones with a lack of inventiveness.

Director Cathy Yan doesn’t understand the dynamics of an ensemble movie. The main focus of Birds of Prey is only on one bird, and her arc isn’t pronounced. You can’t just put a bevy of women together and scream “this is female power” and everyone will get the female empowerment message. I felt none of that because every time it may be going down the road to develop the female characters, we get inundated by noise. That seems to Yan’s goto aesthetics – noise and more noise.

Its other problem is a lack of a convincing villain. McGregor tries his damnedest to chew his scenes out but when you are not given much material to begin with you are probably chewing on your own tongue. Victor Zsasz gets it even worse and from what I have read he features strongly in the comics. I don’t read the comics and don’t get why Roman needs a mask.

Whatever potential Birds of Prey has is buried under a heap of under-realised characters and repetitive action. Birds need to be free and these birds deserve better. They just couldn’t break free from its stylised cage. They didn’t even try.

PS – There is an end-credit scene that drops after you sit through all the credits. Depending on your disposition, you may just shout some expletives at the screen, so I think I better tell you it’s just a cheeky sound-bite involving a certain major character.

Rating: 2,5 / 5



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