LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Looking back on the Oscar-winning trainwreck that was Suicide Squad, it’s easy to see where the studio interference and method acting went wrong.
It relied too heavily on music and jokes, the things that the studio perceived to be the strongest parts of Guardians of the Galaxy. But what made the Marvel movie great was a strong cast of characters that elevate these not-so-big comic book characters into something more.
And that’s where Birds of Prey succeeds.
It realizes that Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is an entry point into a world full of hilarious, cute and bizarre people that make up DC’s grimy Gotham so interesting.
In Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, we pick up right after The Joker breaks up with her.
Her path of self-destruction leads her to a Gotham that wants her dead, led by the Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), who is a trust fund baby without his money trying to make daddy proud. Black Mask also has his creepy henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) doing whatever he can to impress him.
Harley is eventually joined by The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) as hi-jinks ensue and the group get into a lot of trouble.
Director Cathy Yan finds the strengths of these characters very well by balancing the action with quirky moments that feel true to Harley Quinn.
The movie succeeds because the cast is having a blast playing this characters. Robbie’s Quinn is near perfect and the Birds of Prey are a great group to build a film around.
McGregor and Messina also chew up scenery playing villains that needed to be over-the-top yet convincingly evil.
Birds of Prey is everything Suicide Squad failed to be and that’s a good thing.