This article contains opinion.
Director Cathy Yan’s “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is, like its title, exhausting.
The film, a follow-up to the much derided “Suicide Squad,” tries to salvage Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn from the wreckage of that previous effort by throwing out Jared Leto’s Joker attempts to put as much distance between it and that movie.
As Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) notes after Harley blows up Ace Chemicals, “She just publicly updated her relationship status.”
Unfortunately, that toxic relationship was the only thing keeping everyone in Gotham City from trying to kill Harley.
Now, everyone is gunning for her, including crime boss and rich jerk Black Mask (Ewan McGregor, giving maybe the worst performance of his career).
The idea is to show Harley finding herself away from the abusive relationship that’s defined her for so long. It’s too bad that screen writer Christina Hodson’s only idea was “what if she was just leftist Deadpool?”
The “Deadpool” movies are tiring with their endless narration and bad fourth wall breaking, and it’s no different here. It’s not a joke to just have a character point out that you’re watching a movie!
Harley pontificates about all the cliched plot elements, as though that stops them from being cliche. It doesn’t. It just draws attention to how sloppy this whole thing is.
Sure, Yan and Hodson throw in some safe corporatized feminism, but it doesn’t go beyond a base level pat on the back “girl power.”
The relationships between characters are poorly thought out and put together.
Harley is the only one who gets enough screen time to be considered fleshed out, but that’s being generous. Everyone else just walks in and out of scenes shrugging with surface level comments about how that patriarchy is bad.
The worst of it is Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress.
She exists for most of the runtime to show up randomly and kill a character before they have a chance to exposit some plot points at you and the other characters.
Yan and cinematographer Matthew Libatique succeed in creating coherent action sequences. That would feel like a colossal success when compared to other superhero films, but I was just thankful for everyone to stop talking.
If you’re wondering if it’s at least better than “Suicide Squad,” no.
That movie was creepy, misanthropic and insanely misogynistic. This is bad in a whole new equally as tiresome way.
So, it’s more of a lateral move.
I just hope this is the last time for a long time that I have to see Harley Quinn on the big screen. That well is poisoned.