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

ADDED TO "2020 RANKED" :) 

Both intentionally and unintentionally messy as hell, at least on a scripting level, which works for and against Birds Of Prey’s favour. The scatterbrained structure provides ample kinetic momentum, dragging the viewer through the nonsense like a roller skater clinging to a swerving car (in one of many kick-ass set-pieces), but it also kills almost any sense of dramatic development. There’s always a million things happening and yet it often feels like very little is happening at all, with the constant time jumps and detours transparently trying to hide that the story is paper thin. That’s not inherently bad; blockbuster smash-em-ups are allowed to be paper thin, but when they attempt to build actual stakes and arcs for its numerous characters — sorry, caricatures — in the third act, solid foundations are needed, and this shallow script barely even makes room for those foundations (believe it or not, the titular team doesn’t properly meet until the finale).

Fortunately, such slightness meant little to me in the face of such scintillating style. As could be gathered from its decidedly loud title, Birds Of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) has personality to spare, overflowing with surreal humour, gaudy aesthetics, punchy action (assisted by John Wick’s Chad Stahelski and his team at 87eleven) and campy camp (if Ewan McGregor was any hammier he’d be a pig — he’s incredible). At the very least, it’s a rare comic book flick that actually feels like it was not only made by someone but actually made fairly well, and Cathy Tan’s committed craft and cast successfully carried me through the intermittently-incoherent insanity. I was thrilled and confused and amused and annoyed and that’s a far greater gamut of emotions than these movies usually elicit. That’s worth celebrating. 6/10 

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