Birds of Prey

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Birds of Prey take flight.

“Birds of Prey” makes the third time that Margot Robbie, the gorgeous Aussie actress, has played the comic book bad girl Harley Quinn. She played the same character in the pair of loud and flamboyant “Suicide Squad” films. Both films had ensemble casts filled with famous actors in bizarre get-ups. This time, Margot Robbie must carry the film with aid from lesser-known fellow actresses. Comic book mayhem done on a grand scale seems to please the moviegoing and ticket-buying public.

In “Birds of Prey” we shift gears just a tad. Harley Quinn, former psychiatrist becomes the bad guy’s girlfriend, sets out on her own after a heartbreaking break up with the Joker. In this tale, she teams up with some desperate and disparate girls to liberate a young woman from the clutches of a super-villain.

Her cohorts are played by Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell. They respectively play policewoman Renee Montoya, vengeance-seeking The Huntress and the cabaret singer, Black Canary. Got to love the names of comic book heroines. It turns out that all of them can fight bad guys and look good doing it.

The only famous male actor to appear is Ewan McGregor as the Black Mask, the chief villain.

Reflecting the storyline of powerful women doing great deeds, the writer and director of “Birds of Prey” are also women. Cathy Yan directs only her second full-length feature film. Born in China, raised in Virginia and Hong Kong and educated at Princeton, she began her career as a newspaperwoman. Very few women have directed big-budget action flicks. One of the few, Anna Boden directed last year’s “Captain Marvel,” which solidly broke the once sacrosanct billion-dollar mark. Writer Christina Hodson wrote the recent “Transformers” spin-off “Bumblebee” and has several superhero projects in progress.

“Birds of Prey” begins the 2020 line up of single hero versions of the vast, multi-hero films of recent years. “Black Widow” will have her own stand-alone film, never mind that she got killed in the last movie. Ah, Hollywood.

“Birds of Prey” runs for one hour and 45 minutes. The film carries a hard R rating for bad words, lots of them, violence and some sexual and drug themes. Please take the ratings into mind. Kids should not see R-rated films. The three saw blade film cost a Hollywood medium $75 million to make. If I allowed myself to bet, I would bet that “Birds of Prey” makes a ton of money. And it should. Watching the antics of Harley Quinn for two hours gave a respite from real life.

Director Patty Jenkins made “Wonder Woman,” another very successful action flick directed by a woman.

Robbie put her own cash up to make “Birds of Prey” as a producer. I like that. Having skin in the game by the actors often produces a superior outcome. I wish her prosperity.

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