Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey is a big f*ck you to the system, and I enjoyed every second of it.

Birds of Prey was released today, and already has presold more tickets than any other DC movie besides Aquaman and the Joker.

The movie picks up weeks after Harley and the Joker split up.  She references being in jail, but not how she got out.  She’s in a depression because even when she tells people she left him, no one believes her.  So in true Harley fashion, she makes the most definitive statement on her relationship status she can, by blowing up the chemical plant where they became a couple.

I have to say, the visual of her smiling as the chemical plant is up in pink and blue flames (because, what other colors would they be?) and her slowly walking away, is the breakup story every woman has wished she could have at some point in her dating life.

The movie makes digs at the system, men, and how everything is rigged against them anyway so why should they play by its rules?

We see this with Rosie Perez’s character, Det. Renee Montoya, who routinely has her work taken credit for by the men in the force, who keep getting promoted while she’s stuck at the same rank for years.

The other main characters are Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who plays Dinah/Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Huntress, Ella Jay Basco, Cassandra Kay aka The Kid, and Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis.

Dinah starts out as Roman’s singer, hence, the name the Black Canary, and gets promoted to his driver after Harley disables his driver.  Through a series of events, she tips off Det. Montoya about the kid being in danger because she stole a diamond that controls a vast fortune that Roman wants.  He puts a bounty out and that’s when the story kicks into gear.

Harley, who had been reeling from the breakup, was looking to start a new life to get respect for herself that she had when she was the Joker’s girlfriend.  She was tired of hearing that she was nothing without him.  When she blew up the chemical plant, that set half of Gotham, including the cops, after her.  Roman brings her in for past slights, and she makes a bargain with him:  she’ll find the girl for him if he’ll let her go.  They make a deal, and she tries to find the girl.

Of course, in true Harley Quinn fashion, nothing ever goes according to plan.  If she even had one to begin with.

I’m not going to go into the plot details and give the movie away, because I want you to go see it for yourselves.  It deserves to be seen on the big screen.  The cinematography, done by Matthew Libaqtique (Black Swan), is phenomenal.  Movies like this are where women directors are crucial.  It’s directed by Cathy Yan, and you can see that in little touches and the over all picture.  The costumes themselves show that the characters aren’t designed mainly for the male gaze.  There’s skin, but not a ton of it, and very few slowly panning up the women’s bodies scenes that are almost always in these kind of movies.  The action sequences themselves are different, because even though this is rated R, there’s very little blood and little gun violence, at least til the end.  I’m not sure if that was another political statement or not, but Harley herself only uses a gun twice in the movie.  The other times, she’s using a bean gun with exploding glitter, a mallet, and whatever she can find on hand.  The only woman in the movie who regularly uses a gun is Det. Montoya, as a case in point.  The movie is very short, about an hour and a half, which is a perfect length for this kind of movie.  Just long enough to get background and care about the characters.  All the actors did a great job, including Ewan McGregor, who seemed to love his role as the maniacal Roman.  The movie was fun, but didn’t avoid making a point of showing what an abusive relationship Harley had with the Joker, which a lot of other movies would’ve glossed over.  The Huntress has a stutter and is socially awkward, as a product of her trauma in the past, and Dinah doesn’t trust anyone, but still looks out for The Kid, who’s her neighbor.  All the women are flawed and products of their past, but when they come together, they become stronger as a group.

Overall, I give this movie a 9/10.  It’s great, but the pacing could have been a little bit better.  I loved the fight sequences, and how they showed what women are capable of when they work together instead of against each other.  It was a good statement about how not to try to win against a rigged system, but to play by your own rules instead.

But don’t take my word on it.  Go see it and tell me what you think of it.