It’s odd to think that the DC Extended Universe has only been in play for seven years. And in that time, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — Birds of Prey from here — is only the eighth entry. Try as they might, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have just never been able to capture the same kind of lightning-in-a-bottle Marvel Studios thrives on. However, with them easing the throttle on forcing their superheroes to interact, they’re headed in the right track. With the trio of Aquaman, Shazam!, and Birds of Prey, WB and DC are proving they’re starting to get the formula right.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker broke up. Unfortunately for her, her idea of closure puts her smack dab in the middle of Detective Renee Montoya’s (Rosie Perez) investigation involving a missing diamond. A diamond that club owner Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) will stop at nothing to get. Roman instructs his number one henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), and his new driver Dinah Lance, AKA Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), to find it. Little does Roman know that pickpocketer Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) has swallowed it. Lucky for Cassandra, Harley is on the case. Meanwhile, the mysterious Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is hot on everyone’s tail with her own score to settle.
Considering it took so many films to finally get the recipe perfect, it also took a woman’s touch to put the cherry on top. Along with the female leads, we also get Robbie on double duty as producer, with director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) pulling all the stops to ensure a good time from start to finish. Even the soundtrack is women only. It never gets bogged down in the dour heavy handedness that sucked a lot of the fun out of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. And also avoids bothering with trying to shoehorn in topical points as well. These girls are here to entertain and that’s exactly what we get!
Robbie has shed the ogling factor and upped the girl power with this new and improved Harley and the rest of the cast all fit their roles spectacularly. Even Rosie Perez is way more likeable than usual. McGregor gets to be super cooky and extremely creepy. The action is filmed to ensure we always see what’s happening and not full of quick cuts. These girls know how to fight — something helped by Yan calling on John Wick director Chad Stahelski and his stunt team 87 Eleven — and Yan delivers some amazing action scenes. One of which involves what my wife points as a moment of sheer brilliance when Harley Quinn asks Black Canary a very simple question mid-brawl.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a perfect DC movie. It encapsulates what makes the character the icon she is, while establishing enough story to move itself away from the failed Suicide Squad. I can’t wait to see what kinds of shenanigans she gets into next, and how the Birds of Prey factor into the upcoming DCEU schedule. Lessons have obviously been learned, and if the continuing adventures are even half as much fun as this, the series will find itself everlasting.