▶︎ Birds of Prey is on disc and digital download

The particular brand of girl power generally expressed by Marvel and DC movies is anodyne, to say the least. As with the ‘girl gang’ moment of the final battle in last year’s Avengers: Endgame, seeing the women crack skulls and femurs along with the lads has been the main through-line for the female characters of superhero franchises.

Birds of Prey follows along similar lines, though at least the anarchic crew of broads here are more fun to watch than their nicey-nice counterparts. Margot Robbie, reprising her role from 2016’s Suicide Squad as the flamboyantly accessorised and psychopathic Harley Quinn, is the film’s most compelling part, with a lippy, audacious girlishness and a gnat’s attention span. Following a breakup with the Joker, Harley soon finds that the whole of Gotham’s underworld has a grudge against her.

Setting out to stand on her own two stilettoed feet, she ends up drawn into a showdown for a priceless diamond with a child pickpocket and a misogynistic nightclub owner played with maximum ham by Ewan McGregor. A tough NYPD officer (Rosie Perez), a songstress who has a side job as a heavy (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and a mysterious female assassin (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) all join in the bone-crunching fun. One extended sequence in a rundown Scooby-Doo-style funhouse is visually inventive and shot with panache, especially as the girls hop over giant clown tongues and dart between endless loops of lights and mirrors.

Ultimately, the plot is as messy as its central character, trotting around with one shoe and a bacon sandwich in hand, but it’s also a whole bunch of glittery, satisfying fun – especially the unkempt, cheerful, chaotic energy of Harley Quinn.

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Originally published: 11 February 2020