Birds of Prey [7/10]

My love-hate relationship with superhero movies, as unfurled in the third decade of the 21st Century, continues. “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” is apparently the second offering of a specific spin-off from Batman/Joker, the conceit being that Joker’s girlfriend, the sassy, garish, “with attitude” Harley Quinn parts from the villain and finds her way in the world, be it as goodie or baddie. In this movie, Harley finds herself arrayed with (and often against) three other amped-up female protagonists, one a cop, the others ultra-athlete goodie/baddies, in a race to save a feisty teenager (played with amazing panache and irony by Ella Jay Basco) being pursued by the film’s arch-villain, hammed up by Ewan McGregor. The storyline isn’t bad for a superhero movie but the film’s two key hooks are gorgeously choreographed action scenes and the take-no-prisoners, expletive-mouthed performance of brilliant Margot Robbie in the title role. Much of the movie sings a fevered song that is just how a superhero movie should unfold. But is it just me to tire so quickly of biffy, smashing fight scenes that, in spite of the balletic precision, quickly descend into tedium? Am I overstating my persistent flashes of impatience that bordered on tedium? Luckily, Harley Quinn’s exuberant set pieces cured most ills as the film plummeted towards a reasonably plotted ending. Overall, Birds of Prey is an odd mix of filmic brilliance and superhero blandishments, and is a fine entertainment that fails to move beyond entertainment.

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