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Film Review: BIRDS OF PREY

Written by: Victoria Alexander | February 7th, 2020

Film Poster: BIRDS OF PREY
Film Poster: BIRDS OF PREY

Harley keeps her “devil may care” attitude but the rest of the cast are in other movies.

Childish, wavy LSD animation brings the uninitiated up to speed on the saga of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Having broken up with her boyfriend, The Joker, Harley now finds herself without the protection of her feared companion. Harley is flat broke and all alone. Her many hapless victims are now free to exact revenge. Harley’s strongest traits that have made her iconic are her absolute belief in her entitlement and a purposeful self-interest above everything else.

Now that The Joker is long gone and they apparently ended on non-speaking terms, a crime lord, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), doesn’t want to have sex with Harley, but wants to slice off her face. Sionis’s criminal name is Black Mask and his Number One henchman-companion is Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), a sidekick without a defined, interesting personality.

Zasaz has located the big diamond that Sionis wants but an Asian shabby street kid/pickpocket, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), has lifted it from him. It’s big, but not too big to swallow. Zasaz may have lost the diamond but he’s abducted Harley. Roman agrees to postpone her execution for one day. She assures him her vast knowledge of the city’s crime element guarantees she will find the big diamond he’s looking for.

Searching for Harley – for arson – is police detective Montoya (Rosie Perez), who resides in a straight police procedural. Montoya is so undervalued in her department that she’s barely visible – with no hair and makeup team, Perez’s own T-shirt and jeans and unforgiving lighting, her casting and this character’s reason for being a future Bird of Prey is questionable.

Harley always looks red carpet ready.

Sionis’s newest driver is his nightclub’s singer, Dinah (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). She is the only one with a hidden superpower. No matter how sexy, tough and definitely moody Dinah is, Sionis doesn’t want to have sex with her either. (I’m sensing a subtext here.)

The diamond belonged to a Mafia family that was wiped out. The only surviving member was a young girl, Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who spent the past ten years training to kill the men who butchered her family. Her weapon of choice is a small crossbow, which everyone keeps misidentifying as a recurve bow. Calling herself The Huntress, she is also in the same movie as Perez and Smollett-Bell.

Which means Harley Quinn stands alone as the central character who cannot relate to the realism of the people around her. And while her voice can become grating, luckily Harley’s facial expressions are used instead of dialogue. While the unified female crime fighters seriously engage in brutal brawls with men brandishing heavy weapons, Harley’s weapon of choice is roller skates.

Film Image: BIRDS OF PREY
Film Image: BIRDS OF PREY

In HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher”, the last episode called “Welcome Home” had the sexiest scene of 2019. Okay, Willem De Foe and Robert Patterson in THE LIGHTHOUSE made it a close race. Kathryn Hahn, Owen Teague and Katie Kershaw have a ménage à trois. Bravo to the episode’s director Gillian Robespierre, who made a sex scene with a mature woman, an nineteen year old and a full-figured woman very seductive.

Cathy Yan, the Director, must have had her hands full with the demanding female cast. The men are marginally creepy and McGregor’s acknowledged sexual charm is buried in the minds of his past directors. Both McGregor and Messina are intentionally declawed. The movie suffers from not having a menacing villain (that Harley might find “interesting” or at least viable as a replacement for The Joker.) But Yan and screenwriter Christina Hodson did not see McGregor’s character as a sexual challenge. (Let’s hope Rami Malek as Safin in NO TIME TO DIE delivers a cruel, dangerous villain for James Bond.) In fact, McGregor’s much recognized “beauty” is not even served by the magic of cinematography. I’m disappointed since I always think of McGregor as Louis CK’s fantasy gay lover.*

*In Louis CK’s Shameless special he mentions meeting Ewan McGregor. “The only-actually, the one guy I would blow, uh- based on- based on who he is, is Ewan McGregor. There is this one guy out there, I gotta say, that I have no gay inclinations except for I met this fucking dude in person, I was working on some awards show, and there he’s standing, right there, and I was like, fuck! Like, I was just blown away. Like, Jesus Christ, he’s fucking beautiful! – and he looked at me, and he’s like, “hello.” and I was like- I fucking shivered, like, I started shivering, like, fuck! He’s fuckin’ gorgeous. – and like a week later, I was just-I was, like, staring off into space somewhere, and I realized- fuck! I was just daydreaming about Ewan McGregor! – like, seriously, I’m not gay in any other way except for I want to fuck that guy right in the face, I totally want to fuck his face. I want to fuck the shit out of his face. I want him to fuck me. I do, I want him to fuck me. Oh.”

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Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com. For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/author/author-3571/ Contributing to: FilmsInReview: http://www.filmsinreview.com FilmFestivalToday: http://filmfestivaltoday.net Las Vegas Informer Group: LVInformer.com Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org

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