Birds of Prey Emancipates DCEU

By Rob Brandt, STAFF WRITER
“A Harlequin is meant to serve a master.” They’re obedient and follow the rules set by who they serve….but what happens when the master goes away? All rules go away and all bets are off. That is part of what makes Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey so riveting, almost freeing in a sense. You get to see a film from a new point of view and let your inner demons run free due to the freedom you now have.
Birds of Prey tells the story of Harley Quinn, The Joker’s former girlfriend, and most trusted ally. Things have been taking a turn for the worse for the cupid of crime in this film as she and the Joker have broken up and now she finds herself at the mercy of Gotham City’s worst criminals and finest police. Finest is a loose term in this case.
The film also introduces a new slew of characters. Such as the metahuman Black Canary, who has a voice that can blow you away and Huntress, a former mob bosses daughter turned assassin and vigilante who is seeking revenge on the men who killed her family. Also included are Detective Renee Montoya, a streetwise cop who is smarter than half the force and Cassandre Cain, a 13-year-old pickpocket who the main villain of the film is looking for.
While they aren’t exactly The Avengers, this team proves to have the strength and are a force to be reckoned with. Finally, you have Black Mask and Zsaz the dynamic crime boss duo who are slowly taking over all of Gotham City. The two are searching for the Birds of Prey after the team stole a valuable object from them and both prove to be ruthless in their ways to get to the team.
The main premise of the film tells the story of a down on her luck Harley Quinn. You see the emotional toll that the Joker had on her and how all she wants to do is make a name for herself for a change. Harley meets Cassandra Cain and the two form a close bond due to their shared interest in crime and violence. Harley serves as both a mentor and guardian role for Caine and the two decide to work together in order to stay alive.
The film is a new take on the classic character of Harley Quinn. You get to see how strong and criminally masterful she is without being overshadowed by the Joker. Her character brings out everything the DC film universe was missing. The film has plenty of action and violence for the adrenaline junkies but just enough campiness of a superhero film to where you don’t mind it so much. Don’t get me wrong, this film contains massive amounts of violence, gore, swearing, and drug use, definitely earning its R rating. This is the first film in the DC universe to be rated R…and it worked. Before this, Marvel already had an entire list of R rated films such as Logan, Deadpool 1 and 2, Punisher, and others, while DC had never dipped its toe in that pond before. The closest DC had to an R rated film before Birds of Prey was Suicide Squad and that was still PG 13. This film is as graphic as it was still had a great story that wasn’t just overshadowed by the blood and gore. It gave an iconic character their own version of real-life problems and allowed her to prove that she and her team can take on whatever the world throws at them. Due to its rating, the writers are allowed more freedom and, to me, really proved that the DC universe still has the potential to make great films, whether they are R rated or not.
When watching this film, you can feel all the charisma and fun that the actors are expressing and having. The lack of a filter made for some great one-liners and new dialogue which would have had to be heavily rewritten if it was a standard superhero film. Each scene you can tell each actor went all out in their performances due to this lack of filter and really helped tie in the whole this is not a typical superhero vibe together.
The all-star cast includes Margot Robbie as the infamous Harley Quinn, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth-Winstead as Huntress, Rosie Perez as Detective Renee Montoya, and Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. The actors go over the top in ways that DC characters just haven’t before. Most of the time they’re all brooding and serious, but Birds of Prey adds a little fun and color (both metaphorically and literally) that the films lacked before. If they want to continue on this path of great films the studio should consider the use of more R rated films. This one is almost guaranteed to make a ton of money just because of the popularity of Harley Quinn. If DC can make a more mainstream character have a film as freeing and vibrant as this then that might just be their first step in making great films.
This film would definitely earn an 8 out of 10 in my book just due to the uniqueness of it, and the fact that it never slows down. It’s like a roller coaster on speed everything’s happening so fast and it’s loud and obnoxious but your heart’s pumping and you can’t stop. It’s an addictive adrenaline ride that earned its emancipation.