BIRDS OF PREY – Review by Susan Granger

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This is Warner Bros’ latest DC Comics-based film, following “Aquaman,” Shazam!” and “Joker.” It focuses on Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), first introduced in “Suicide Squad” (2016), who tries to save the life of a young girl, going up against villainous Black Mask.

Born Harleen Quinzel, she had a Catholic-school upbringing and serious daddy issues. After earning a Ph.D. in psychology, she fell madly in love with the Joker when he was incarcerated at Arkham Asylum and helped him escape. But as this story begins, they’ve split up.

Having lost the formidable protection of the psychopathic Joker, Harley’s #1 on the Wanted list of crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), known as Black Mask. He covets a diamond that holds the key to a vast fortune; it’s a gem that was stolen by pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).

To accomplish her mission, Harley assembles a girl-powered posse. The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is Helena Bertinelli, daughter of a mob family that was murdered. As the sole survivor, she’s determined to wreak revenge with her trusty crossbow.

Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is Dinah, a singer who has the ability to emit a sonic scream that can shatter eardrums. Although she lacks superpowers, Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) has a romantic relationship with Kate Kane – a.k.a. Batwoman.

Directing her first major feature, Chinese-American Cathy Yan churns Christina Hodson’s crudely pulpy plot with exciting action sequences, but she’s subverted by far too many unresolved subplots.

Determined to play a foul-mouthed, substance-abusing, uber-violent Gotham crime fighter, Australian actress Margot Robbie (“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood,” “Bombshell”) helped develop the nihilistic script, inspired by “Trainspotting” and “True Romance.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” flies in with a kinetic, superhero 6, serving as a showcase for Margot Robbie.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.