'Birds of Prey' review: Another strong entry for DC

'Birds of Prey' review: DC's latest entry into its cinematic universe is a strong one, driven by great comedy and action

The Birds of Prey feat. Harley Quinn and Cassandra Cain. Photo: YouTube/Warner Bros.

Birds of Prey (Age Rating: A)

Director: Cathy Yan

Cast: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor

Rating: 4/5

Little old Harley Quinn joins hands with a ragtag group of bad-ass girls to stop Roman Sionis from taking total control of Gotham City.

That is Birds of Prey in a nutshell. It is what you get when you take the mangled remains of Suicide Squad and Frankenstein it together with great comedy, solid action and hilarious characters.

See, DC has a very chalky history. They've got some great highs in films like Aquaman, which doesn't try to be anything more than a superhero movie, and some pitiful lows in films like Suicide Squad, which had promise but went too far into the deep end with an end-of-the-world blue beam in the sky nonsense. Birds of Prey, fortunately, sits closer to Aquaman than Suicide Squad, though it picks up shortly after it.

The film lacks a bit in the story department, being driven by its comedy, action and liberal use of nonlinear narrative. But for what it's worth, the story has Quinn, who has broken up with the Joker, getting a target the size of Gotham city painted on her back, and she is forced to hunt a girl, Cassandra Cain, who has a very very precious diamond that Roman wants.

On the way, she meets Dinah Lance, Helena Bertinelli and Renee Montoya, all of who are after Roman Sionis in some way or another. Hilarity ensues as these four ladies cross knuckles and beat up both each other and Roman's goons.

Let's talk about Roman for a bit. Ewan McGregor was the perfect choice for this classic Batman rogue, first of all. He's got the look down with the comic-accurate suits and the black mask he's known for. He's got the mental instability down and he has just the right amount of creepiness blended with intimidation to be a good, solid villain.

But what good is a villain without a sidekick, and here we have Victor Zsasz, another classic Batman rogue with all the same ticks i.e., making a cut in his own skin for every kill (which he calls "releasing the birdies from this world", hah). Chris Messina sells it easily, except for the bit where this Zsasz feels like he's a little early in his career.

Back to the ladies now. All four grown-ups have a well-worn character associated with them. Quinn is the depressed maniac who got a hyena to get over Mr J; Bertinelli is fuelled by a desperate need for revenge, which leads to a particularly hilarious exchange; Dinah wants to get out of Roman's service and has a really awesome power up her lungs; and Renee is just a cop with a morbid obsession with 80s cop movies who won't take anyone's nonsense.

Cathy Yan, a fairly little-known director in the list of fellows who have helmed past DC entries, is out to make her mark and it shows. She blends colour like an artist, uses comic book language with mastery and, most of all, manages to redeem the ruination of Quinn like a pro. Her eye for action is undeniably tasteful, with just the right amount of gore thrown into it, resulting in a well-seasoned dish. Pairing her with cinematographer Matthew Libatique was obviously the right move.

Overall, Birds of Prey is a properly-rounded film coming out of DC's slate. Whatever the reason, Warner Bros seems to have become really comfortable with the films under the DC Comics banner, be it Aquaman or Joker, and one can only hope that they continue doing their own thing at their own pace and chase a unique identity, rather than chasing Marvel's trail.

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