“Do you know what a harlequin is? A harlequin’s role is to serve. It’s nothing without a master.”
That’s not the case anymore. Margot Robbie’s (“Suicide Squad”) Harley Quinn is much, much more than that, as she proves in the new movie “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.”
I had the opportunity to see a pre-screening for this movie along with several other U of M students, and I wasn’t sure what to think initially. I hadn’t seen “Suicide Squad,” so most of my knowledge of Harley Quinn was from Batman cartoons, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and the internet. However, this movie reveals so much more of her character. Most people only really knew her as the “Joker’s girlfriend” before this, but in this film we find out that he is inconsequential in her new life. She is truly emancipated from his hold on her. She is a new woman, doing what she wants to do, living with her hyena as company.
In “Birds of Prey,” we follow Harley’s journey in finding a diamond for Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”). She soon learns that a young girl named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco, “Teachers”) posseses the diamond … and isn’t exactly able to just hand it over. To keep an eye on Cassandra, Harley begins to teach the younger girl all about being Harley Quinn. She’s like a hilariously psychotic older sister. Their blossoming relationship is easily one of the best things to watch in the film. Harley’s plotline is intertwined with that of other women, namely Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez, “Untamed Heart”), Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell “One Last Thing”) and Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “10 Cloverfield Lane”), aka the soon-to-be-dubbed Birds of Prey.
The fight scenes in this movie are incredible. Harley’s unique style of hitting people with baseball bats and using glitter and paint bombs is an amazing way of meshing together femininity with strength. She doesn’t have to give up her glitter in order to kill people. It is truly inspirational.
The other top-tier performance in this movie is without a doubt Ewan McGregor’s. He manages to play a hilarious villain without making himself seem incompetent. His character, Roman Sionis, is always sharply dressed, utterly despicable and sinister while wearing an innocent smile.
The real best thing about this movie, though, is the unanticipated camaraderie that somehow forms between the four central women. Despite the fact that they all have their own goals, from justice to honoring a fallen family member to revenge to self-preservation, they set their priorities aside to keep Cassandra safe. In one of the final action scenes in the film, while the four women are beating up Sionis’ men (on trampolines and roller skates in Harley’s case), they all pass Cassandra around to each other to protect her. These four insanely different women all end up with one final goal: to protect a young girl in danger for her unwilling possession of a diamond.
“Birds of Prey” proves that you can have an ensemble movie full of truly complex and different women. It will forever serve as a reminder that women can be deadly and girly, crazy and genuine, terrible and wonderful, without a man to help them along the way.