Harley Quinn returns to cinemas this weekend, hoping to banish the bitter memories of Suicide Squad with a movie in which she gets chance to shine — Birds of Prey, or Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), for completists.
The film follows Quinn, played once again by an effervescent Margot Robbie, as she navigates the underworld in the wake of her split from the Joker — who does not appear in Birds of Prey — with his protection now a thing of the past.
A missing diamond, desired by sadistic crime lord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), pushes Quinn into the path of pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), as well as several other women with interests in the stone.
The reviews have landed and — after ecstatic early social media reactions — critics are impressed by Robbie’s performance, as well as the work of director Cathy Yan, who previously only had indie satire Dead Pigs under her belt.
Birds of Prey currently boasts a 90% approval rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Here’s what the most positive of the critics had to say...
The Independent: "All the daily joys and hurdles of a woman’s experience are deftly woven into the larger-than-life fabric of the comic-book film. It’s as smart in its approach as it is carefree in its execution."
Little White Lies: "Dealing with trauma, abuse and the very real threat of male violence through a superhero lens, it’s the closest anyone has come to translating the Technicolour energy of actual comics onto the screen for a long time."
Time Out: "[Quinn] gets another shot at the spotlight in this spin-off directed by Cathy Yan, who lets her heroine’s mania guide her through a story that’s scrappy, weird and ultimately fun as hell."
Total Film: "It’s relentless, hyperactive, and viciously entertaining. Just like Harley herself.”
Some critics were more split on the merits of the movie...
Empire: "It’s messy, with a middle section that sags, but Birds Of Prey has vibrancy, anarchy and balls to spare. Harley and Joker are dead. Long live Harley Quinn."
The Guardian: "Weirdly watchable super-villain comedy, a hyperactive aspartame overload."
The Telegraph: "This whole film is a femme-fatale meet-and-greet which detoxifies the recent spree of male-dominated skulkings around Gotham City."
Variety: "But if the film’s (black) heart is in the right acid place, Birds of Prey could have used more of the intricate cleverness of Deadpool."
And others were disappointed by the film’s execution...
BBC: "However popular the film becomes, though, I doubt that anyone will adore it as much as it evidently adores itself."
Vulture: "It never settles on how f***ed-up it wants its f***ed-up protagonist to be."
Hollywood Reporter: "Those hoping for a Deadpool-like fusion of mayhem and wit should lower their expectations: Harley may be known for her unpredictability, but Birds plays by action movie rules."
Read more: How Trainspotting inspired Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey also stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina and Ali Wong.
Robbie is due to reprise her role in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, which will be released in August 2021.
Birds of Prey hits UK cinemas from 7 February.