Birds Of Prey

Certificate: 15

Starring: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Ella Jay Basco.

Release date: 2020

4 out of 5

4

Harley Quinn (Robbie) – the stand out character of 2016’s Suicide Squad – gets her own lead role and a glorious dose of girl power in this action movie that boasts the full title Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn.

A brief but fun animated sequence fills us in on the events of Harley’s life with the main point being that, after earning a PhD and training as a psychiatrist, she fell in love with Arkham Asylum patient The Joker. Things went from bad (she broke him out of jail) to worse (a nosedive into a vat of chemicals) and, as we catch up with her, the mad, bad and dangerous to know bleach blonde is trying to recover from their break up.

Pretty much no one likes her and quite a few people are out to get her – displayed in a terrific running joke throughout the film – and she’s not exactly a favourite of local gangster Roman Sionis (McGregor) either. Things are going to get messy, especially when Harley also crosses paths with cop Montoya (Perez).

While the movie eventually brings the Birds Of Prey (Harley, Montoya, Smollett-Bell’s singing Black Canary and Winstead’s crossbow-wielding The Huntress) of the title together for a kick-ass finale that is superbly staged by director Cathy Yan in an abandoned fun house, most of the film isn’t about them being together at all.

We do get a little back story for each one – 80s cop show-obsessed Montoya has been passed over once too often for promotion, The Huntress is on a revenge mission and Black Canary is in the reluctant employ of Sionis – but this movie is really the story of Harley Quinn walking away from The Joker and realising she is stronger, scarier and way cooler than he could ever imagine.

Fast, frenetic, colourful and packed with flashbacks and enough momentary diversions to make your head spin, this doesn’t always work – McGregor’s kingpin isn’t mad or dark or bonkers enough, for starters – but it hits most of the targets head on, just like Harley crushing bad guys with her baseball bat and has some great little touches too (such as the hair band hand over during a fight) that you’d never find in a movie helmed by a male action director.

The cast are terrific, especially Winstead, Smollett-Bell and Perez, and Robbie is superb throughout.  Humorous like Scott Pilgrim, action packed and wry like Deadpool, this is a blast from start to finish, and hopefully just the first of Harley and her Birds of Prey’s cinematic adventures.

Is Birds Of Prey suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

This is a 15 certificate film and is aimed at adults and older teens. Please note that under-15s cannot see this film in UK cinemas. It is a R rating in the US.

There are many scenes featuring violent fights, during which legs are broken, people are shot, hit with bats, crossbows fired etc. One character is seen torturing people by removing the skin from their faces (it is mainly implied rather than shown) and also a character forces a woman to remove her dress in front of people. A hyena is seen eating a human leg.

There is frequent bad language.

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