Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) ★★★½

"It really takes losing something you love to put things into perspective."

On rewatch, the film still holds up well. The entire cast makes for an enjoyable time, and you can absolutely tell they were having fun on set. It is clear to see that the studios might have had some hesitance to having a Birds film ala comics, seeing how they graffiti'd Harley Quinn all over the marketing, title, and essentially molded it into her own film. I would have loved to see more of the other birds, but their own emancipated sequel will undoubtedly smoothen that out. While Christina Hodson's script does little to provide for an actual solid plot when you look deeply, Cathy Yan's direction is fluid and very promising. Paired with the very experienced cinematography from long-time Darren Aronofsky and Spike Lee DoP, Matthew Libatique (Phone Booth, A Star is Born, Iron Man, Venom), capturing the chaos looks effortless and smooth. With the amount of contained chaos and moving pieces throughout the film, I have nothing but a newfound respect for this soon to be in demand filmmaker. The action of the film was some of the best and certainly at the top of the DC films, yes, even including Nolan's trilogy (who's actual action has always been the worst stiff element).

With no insult intended to Yan, I think this is largely in part to the inclusion of veteran stuntman turned director, Chad Stahelski (John Wick) as the second unit director and stunt supervisor. You can just tell that his presence along with the stunt workers from 87Eleven - the company he co-founded with partner and fellow stuntman turned director, David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, John Wick, Deadpool 2) - and insight to the woefully underrepresented art of stunt work, raised the bar for everyone involved. Most notably, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Margot Robbie, who you could visibly see doing most if not all of their stunts. Each of the Birds had their own unique manner of fighting, Canary with her kick-fueled Taekwondo, Harley with an unpredictable reactive drunken master panache, Montoya as a street brawler, and Huntress in a more planned calculation of violence. I would have liked to see Cassandra Cain at least show some semblance of the master martial artist she is in the comics, but perhaps the DCEU is waiting to showcase that in the future Batgirl solo film (that is if they opt to go straight ahead and make Cain, Batgirl already). Christina Hodson (Bumblebee), the writer of Birds of Prey is onboard for Batgirl, so I don't think it'd be a wild assumption to see Yan hired on to direct another female-led DCEU film. The action scenes and rollerblading were all dynamic, constantly on the move and implementing every bit of set design and decoration placed around them. They stand as the highlight of the film, particularly the evidence room sequence.   

PS - Colin Farrell's Penguin and Ewan McGregor's Black Mask would make for quite a hilarious dynamic. 

FULL REVIEW ON MIDLINE 

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