‘Birds of Prey’: A New Take on Beloved Antihero Harley Quinn

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Aissata Barry

Alex Eum ’22 greatly enjoyed the film ‘Birds of Prey,’ especially the action scenes. “They were awesome,” he said.

Harley Quinn, also known as Harleen Quinzel, has long been a favorite among fans of DC Comics.  She was originally introduced as the Joker’s girlfriend, and their toxic and abusive relationship was depicted in a previous film released in 2016. In that film, Harley was portrayed as a sidekick rather than a partner, seemingly dependent on him for love and protection. However, 2020’s ‘Birds of Prey’ changes this completely, and Harley becomes powerful and independent without the Joker. The movie, while lacking in some ways, excels at telling Harley’s story in an entertaining and empowering manner.

I definitely appreciate that ‘Birds of Prey’ included such an empowering message. At the start of the movie, the Joker breaks up with Harley, leaving her distraught and lonely. After a short period of time she gets over him, proceeding to blow up the power plant where they had their first kiss. This sent the message that the Joker no longer protects Harley, which means she is quickly hunted by everyone that she has angered in the past. She evades all but one, Roman Sionis, who captures her and tasks her to retrieve a diamond from young thief Cassandra Cain. However, when Harley finds Cassandra, she does not turn her in, instead taking the girl under her wing. In the end, Harley and the gang of women she meets along her journey are victorious in protecting both Cassandra and themselves, which is symbolic of the fact that women are strong and powerful, especially when working in a team.

By far, the highlight of the movie was the fast-paced, intense action scenes. Harley Quinn and her team, consisting of  Renee Montoya, Dinah Lance, and Helena Bertinelli, have to fight for their lives after Cassandra swallows a valuable diamond and is hunted by a criminal mastermind. The climactic fight scene takes place in a funhouse of sorts, filled with surprises and bright color. The best part of this scene was undoubtedly Harley Quinn fighting on rollerskates, which made the scene more exciting and interesting. Alex Eum ’22 said “I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!” The violence was almost cartoonish, but this was not exactly a bad thing. It felt similar to the comic books that first introduced the character, and brought a sense of nostalgia to the film. Additionally, the action scenes were not too gory or uncomfortable to watch. 

Despite the empowerment of women and the exhilarating action sequences, the storyline and some of its characters are lackluster. The other members of Harley’s gang did have some explained backstory, but it was not enough for viewers to care deeply about the characters. Their stories were intertwined, but this was messy, and in the end, there were too many plotlines to follow, making the movie somewhat confusing. The women have a common goal (to defeat Sionis), but that is it as far as their relationships go. It was still entertaining, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good superhero or action movie.

To watch ‘Birds of Prey’ on Amazon Prime (for a rental fee), click HERE.

“I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!” said Alex Eum ’22.

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