Birds of Prey shoots out like a cannon and never really lets up before the credits roll. An action-packed romp featuring some of the DC Universe's most notorious bad guys, Harley Quinn's latest adventure is equal parts fun and ridiculous. Director Cathy Yan put her foot on the gas and rarely let off, which both acted to the film's benefit and detriment. Some of the featured characters are extremely interesting, and only a small amount of light is shed on them, at the expense of cinematic thrills and exciting anticipation.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), is going through a rough patch. Her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be the Joker, left her in shambles. Harley takes to parties and violence to get through the devastating breakup. Her reputation, and life, in Gotham City is still protected by the Joker's aurora, until the split becomes public knowledge. All of a sudden, everyone Harley ever wronged is at her doorstep. Her treacherous path eventually leads her to the terrifying Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a charismatic psychopath, and his right-hand man Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), who is also a psychopath but very much lacks the charisma. Receiving both help and resistance from police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), the Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and secret assassin The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Harley finds herself on a wild goose chase for a young troublemaker and thief, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).
Although the story can induce a few eye rolls from time to time, screenwriter Christina Hodson does a fantastic job of telling Harley Quinn's adventure. Much of the film is narrated from Harley's point of view, and the script somehow makes the audience care for the unstable murderer. But while the film does a great job in narrating Harley's story, it fails in various other character arcs. This is undoubtedly by design, as a film like this could end up dragging on too long, but it would have been nice to learn more about The Huntress and Black Canary.
The fast-paced direction guides this movie to a quick and satisfying end, only hampered by a few slower parts in the second act. The many fight scenes are well-choreographed and expertly shot, treating the audience to a nice balance of slow-motion high kicks and flawless transitions to crowded free-for-alls. One scene is shot so exceedingly well, with the camera weaving in and out of the action, that much of the audience will be on the edge of their seats until it ends. All of this impressive camera work is complimented by an engaging cast, highlighted by Robbie's performance as Harley, and McGregor's chilling portrayal of Sionis.
Birds of Prey is certainly not perfect, but it is a blast to watch. Colorful, funny, and direct, Yan's latest film is a good time. Fans of the DC Universe should enjoy Harley's second chance on the silver screen, and it is obvious that the cast and crew enjoyed making it as well. Although not every character is dissected properly, and despite the story getting little bizarre, at the end of it all, Birds of Prey is a wonderful experience, and a worthy trip through this slice of DC lore.