Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Cathy Yan directs Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor and Rosie Perez in this spin-off from Suicide Squad were the Joker’s girlfriend breaks out on her own – leaving her vulnerable, directionless and embroiled in a plot to murder a teen pickpocket.

A hot mess but not an unlikable hot mess. Think Hudson Hawk and you aren’t a million miles off… The Birds of Prey concept is totally lost in the mix, this is Harley Quinn’s spotlight and the rare moments where she leaves it to others, you experience drag. Rosie Perez and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are great performers stuck in background roles. Only Ewan McGregor’s camp, villainous Black Mask matches the vibe, energy and duality of the production and its star. This feels like the most evil fun he’s had since Shallow Grave. A lot of the action appears gracelessly bolted on, though the more reshot it looks the better it is. There’s is a final lap funhouse rumble tumble that feels so sloppy I suspect it is the reason Chad Stahelski got speed dialled in by Warners to add some John Wick style pop. If you want meta, glitter, daftness, knockabout and neon the rest is very watchable. If you want slick, predictable seamless product then Captain Marvel is available on demand. There’s nothing wrong with a two thirds successful, one third coherent punk anarchy blockbuster every now and again… unless you are the studio basing your first quarter’s profits on it. I’m all about an interesting failure over a factory processed adequate. This will find its following in later life.

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