Birds of Prey

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN is the movie that says “Okay, we fucked up that SUICIDE SQUAD movie, but Margot Robbie was great as Harley Quinn, right? Didn’t we kinda have something there?” And the answer is yes and yes, so luckily they gave her another movie. It’s the second feature for director Cathy Yan, whose 2018 debut DEAD PIGS takes place in Shanghai but stars Zazie Beetz. She obviously has Robbie’s pre-existing character and David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD sensibilities to build off of here, but I think she makes it distinct – it feels to me like a studio hiring a promising new director to do her thing, not to follow instructions.

Formerly the abused girlfriend/sidekick of The Joker, this is the story of Harley’s life after breaking up with him. No longer enjoying the immunity provided by association with a famous psychopath boyfriend, Harley gets herself into trouble with various factions including but not limited to the gang run by Roman “Black Mask” Sionis (Ewan McGregor, MILES AHEAD, JANE GOT A GUN), police detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez, DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, Widows), somebody she punched in a roller derby bout (stuntwoman Keisha Tucker), and somebody who blames her for his face being tattooed like a clown and can’t fucking believe it when she doesn’t remember what he’s mad about (Matthew Willig, FULL CONTACT [1993], 3 FROM HELL).

She also gets mixed up in a squabble over a mcmuffin, specifically a rare diamond with even rarer codes engraved into it, though she seems more emotionally involved in an unrelated quest for an egg, bacon and cheese sandwich. The diamond has fallen into the possession of a foul-mouthed young pickpocket named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco, niece of Dante Basco from BLOOD & BONE and HOOK) who is therefore being chased by Black Mask’s henchpeople, including Dinah “Black Canary” Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell, EVE’S BAYOU, ROLL BOUNCE, GRIDIRON GANG), who was just a singer at his club until she got pushed into being his driver because Harley broke the old one’s legs for calling her a slut and then Roman found out Dinah could fight when he saw her beating up some guy in an alley for trying to rape Harley while she’s too drunk to fight him off.

I’m making it sound convoluted, but unlike the horribly-structured-after-reworking-the-whole-thing SUICIDE SQUAD, this script by Christina Hodson (BUMBLEBEE) has a method to its madness, cleverly weaving together all the different threads while its narrator, Harley, wobbles around, distracted, jumping back in time but getting us involved enough to forget where we were until we get there again.

I think it helps that there are no monsters or magic beings. Not that I got anything against monsters or magic beings. I love ‘em. But I also love that these are just people who are comic-book-level-good at fighting. Instead of the usual FX there’s a fuck-ton of good old fashioned spin-kicks, baseball bats to various body parts, flips, leaps, slides, drops, drop kicks. An action movie! The early scene with Harley playing derby is a cute acknowledgment of a female-driven subculture that must’ve influenced her style in the first movie, but it also nicely (if unnecessarily) sets up for her to wear rollerskates for a major action scene. It’s so cool because

1) it’s completely ingenious to do one of these FAST & FURIOUS style fights on top of a moving car but have the heroine wearing skates so it doesn’t matter when her feet drag


2) they even use a bit of derby terminology. Beautiful.

I know I’m a broken record about this shit, but I love that it’s lots of real stunts and complex choreography, and they present it well, don’t shoot close up or shaky or edit it all to shit. This is so much more exciting to me than the green screen and animation that most of the super hero movies (both Marvel and DC) tend to devolve into. I wish they made more like this. I’m looking at you, Shang-Chi and The Batman.

I know JOHN WICK’s Chad Stahelski was reportedly involved in reshoots, and his muse Daniel Bernhardt (JOHN WICK, ATOMIC BLONDE, BLOODSPORT 2-4) is in it as the aforementioned driver who gets his legs snapped by Harley, but I suspect this has been misinterpreted by some people. The action was already being handled by stunt coordinator/second unit director John Eusebio of 87Eleven, who worked on all the JOHN WICKs, DEADPOOL 2, and HAYWIRE, among other things. I read an interview with Yan where she talks very thoughtfully about her approach to the action, the fights are too numerous and too integral to have been an afterthought, and you don’t have that amount of complex choreography with the real actors unless you plan and train well ahead of time. But apparently the reshoots added even more of it. I approve.

I didn’t actually realize BIRDS OF PREY OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB was gonna be rated-R, but after a few “motherfucker”s and a scene where Roman and his pal Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina, GREENBERG) are cutting people’s faces off, I caught on. In modern terms it’s more of a DEADPOOL than a JOKER, but the movie it really reminded me of is TANK GIRL. I think TANK GIRL is more stylistically radical, and BIRDS OF PREY is a way better story. But both have a perfectly cast actress ferociously throwing herself into an irreverent, anarchic anti-hero who’s part punk, part sexy, totally not-giving-a-fuck, alternately tough-as-nails and sensitive, childish and fucked up, also has a heart under there and can be a great friend, or not. In both cases the rhythm and style and tone of the movie comes completely out of that character’s personality, including switching to animation, fantasy sequences, etc. And both have playful production design (in this case by K.K. Barrett, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, HUMAN NATURE, MARIE ANTOINETTE) full of color, detail and cartoonish exaggeration.

It’s worth noting that costume designer Erin Benach also did DRIVE. What I’m getting at is that she designed the silver scorpion jacket that was a phenomenon at the time. She’s a great choice for this movie – she has fun giving Harley all kinds of glimmery rainbow colored things to wear. And another notable participant with indie cred is cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who’s Aranofsky’s guy going back to PI, and did several Spike Lee movies, though he also did IRON MAN and VENOM.

One not-normal thing they do that I think fits Harley’s personality is that the whole thing is the origin story for this super hero team the Birds of Prey – a team that our main character is not a member of, and says is stupid. Maybe she can be the hostess of the DC Universe, going around being the main character in everybody elses’s movies. RISE OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS (AND THE HOME-MADE ROCKET OF MS. H. QUINN). I might’ve been into BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (WHEN HARLEY HAD A PARADEMON FOR A ROOMMATE).

Harley is the heart of BIRDS OF PREY WHO WENT UP A HILL BUT CAME DOWN A MOUNTAIN, and is a bad person who we’re allowed to love in this cartoonish world. I appreciate that though we saw how horribly the Joker treated her, she’s the one who got dumped, and though her voiceover claims otherwise, she didn’t take it well. We’re excited to see her unshackled from the burden of the other movie, but she’s just discovering how to go solo.

When the story focuses on the other characters for a while we don’t have to miss Harley, because she’s telling the story. I’ve always enjoyed the works of Mary Elizabeth Lucy McClane Winstead (Passions, BOBBY, BLACK XMAS), and she’s fun as the leather-clad dark avenger Helena Bertinelli, who wants to be called “Huntress” and is eternally frustrated that everybody calls her “The Crossbow Killer” instead. But Black Canary is definitely the standout character. She’s the most traditionally cool and badass but also has the most layers, getting stuck in a situation where she has to endanger herself by turning on her boss in order to live up to her values, and feeling the need to help people she doesn’t like.

McGregor makes a great villain, a little in the traditional Batman Rogue’s Gallery way, but more like an action movie villain who gets weird and mega enough to be memorable. He seems overly upbeat most of the time and keeps doing random “whooooo!”s, even a spin at one point. Definitely could be thinking about Nic Cage. There’s a funny scene where he crassly shows off his collection of indigenous masks to Black Canary. I wondered if this was an intentional parallel to the Michael Keaton Bruce Wayne, in the “King of the Wicker People” scene.

Its sensibilities are much more smart-assed and hyper-active than Burton’s BATMAN, but I guess it’s a little old school in its willingness to drastically change things from the comics. I’ve heard from some of you guys about how Cassandra Cain was an entirely different, mostly non-verbal character raised by assassins who later became Batgirl. And I know that Black Mask was originally Jet Li in a Kato mask accompanied by a bunch of scratch DJ music when he’s in the U.S. But in spirit I think this is very much the thing we think of as “like a comic book” when we mean it as a compliment.

I’m old now, so I remember when Batman and Superman and shit were unifying forces. Comic book readers were a minority, but everybody had some fond memory of those characters from childhood, whether from a cartoon, a TV show or a pajama. And everybody enjoyed their blockbuster movies. It hadn’t gotten complicated by too many shitty sequels and reboots yet, and the culture around comic books was different, so everybody was just happy to celebrate it. It didn’t occur to you that woman-hating weirdos and militants would some day bother you on the internet about liking the comic book movies from one corporation better than the other. The movies and the conversation around them were in many ways less sophisticated, but not quite as insufferable. And we had “Bat Dance.”

Now every time I write a review of a movie like this I worry about summoning the annoying identity politics of the people who identify as being against identity politics. It’s a comic book movie by and about women, so the first time someone casually said “I appreciate that” it signaled the Legion of Dudes headquarters to rise out of the swamp with But Actually Man straddled on top clutching his ratty notebook full of infuriating discussion-ruiners. I want no part in his Inanity War, so I’m just gonna turn “Bat Dance” up real loud and hope he doesn’t hear me say this:

BIRDS OF PREY THANKS FOR EVERYTHING JULIE NEWMAR is my preferred R-rated clown-themed DC super villain solo movie. I respect JOKER as a well made and unusual movie and all that, but I just don’t like the idea behind it. To me it’s like making a movie called LONE RANGER and he’s not a guy who wears a mask or does heroic stuff, he’s just a sad guy who works at a slaughterhouse. But he is alone and he kills a white horse that could arguably be Silver. Okay, great, but I kind of like the Lone Ranger, I’d sort of be more into a story about The Lone Ranger?

So I appreciate that BIRDS OF PREY AND THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is a story about The Lone Ranger, or in this case Harley Quinn, and embodies the things we love about that character. Her life is some weird mix of gangster tale and Looney Tunes short. She goes around causing mayhem (from stealing a drink to blowing up a chemical factory to attacking a police station with glitter bombs) with a combination of wicked playfulness and naive innocence. In the middle of a foot chase she gets distracted by a rainbow-sequined fannypack. She has a pet hyena. She hides out in an abandoned carnival funhouse straight out of one of the cartoons her character was invented for. I don’t really understand the premise of this attraction, but it has a row of women’s heads with long wavy tongues suitable for bouncing off of, a circle of giant rubber hands, and other crazy props to fight among. The kind of shit the Joker used to like, before he sold out to become a best picture nominee.

(I thought it would be funny if at some point she had a picture of Joaquin-Phoenix-Joker, just to confuse people. They actually don’t even show Jared Leto, just drawings that look more like a traditional comic book Joker. That’s okay, they know what they’re doing.)

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE YOU GET THE IDEA is silly and candy-colored. It mixes many tones and emotions, but it would be hard to describe as dark or serious. Still, it speaks to me deeper than dark-and-serious-JOKER does with its sense of humor, its love of action and gimmicks, and its story of troublemakers rejected by the people in their lives, forced to work together and realizing they sort of like each other. It’s sweet. But it still has a notably oh-shit death for one character. It’s a fun time at the carnival.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 14th, 2020 at 9:19 am and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

44 Responses to “Birds of Prey”

  1. I said it earlier but the but McGregor is aping is Sam Rockwell. He even wears similar suits you’ll see Rockwell wear and the dancing and just everything scheme Rockwell.

  2. This was a very troubled production with massive rewrites and reshoots. Chad Stahelski did much more than just shoot action scenes…

  3. Are you basing that on any particular article or source, Serpico? As far as I can remember, BoP was shot, edited and released on schedule, unlike DOCTOR DOOLITTLE or THE JESUS ROLLS.

  4. It’s funny you mention Tank Girl as I believe Margot Robbie’s production company has recently picked up the rights/licence for Tank Girl and there were several moments throughout Birds of Prey where I thought this feels less like Harley Quinn and more like Tank Girl (not a bad thing). It will be interesting to see how, IF Margot Robbie plays Tank Girl what she will do to make her different.

  5. This was such a good movie! Since watching it a couple nights ago, here are some thoughts that floated to the top:

    -Great version of Gotham City, seen in nighttime and daylight equally. Neither Snyder or Ayer did a detailed portrayal of Gotham in their DC movies, but Cathy Yan builds out the underworld, shows us the cops and all the different criminal guilds and service people interlocking. It rides the line perfectly between fantasy metropolis and plausible on-location place.

    -I was worried in advance about Joker being awkwardly cut out of the movie, but now that I’ve seen it I think it was a great choice! Harley is so ubiquitous that I had forgotten how much fun she is as a character, and now she gets a whole movie to herself to shine. Margot Robbie is completely dedicated to her portrayal, so in the scenes I didn’t like, she made the ride enjoyable. The scene with the egg salad sandwich was laugh out loud funny and that is fully due to Robbie’s performance.

    -Vern’s point about the practical stunts, action and acrobatics was dead-on. Admittedly I started to get numb watching the avalanche of fighting at the end of the movie, but I was still way more engaged than watching Deadshot mow down the eyeball monsters in Suicide Squad. It’s easier to connect to a flesh and blood good guy whacking a bad guy (or vice versa) than a sky beam ticking down to the end of the universe.

    -Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask is a despicable cunt of a character – reminded me a little of Stuntman Mike from Death Proof in that he terrorizes women but is actually a coward with a high pitched squeal. He and Colin Farrell started out as pretty boy imports but now they’ve become beloved weirdo character actors and being witness to that decades-long transition has given me joy.

    *According to an onscreen title, Harley is a Bernie voter?! Hell yeah

  6. I wish this movie could have a fate similar to Blade, where even though it seems to be flopping in theaters, when it inevitably finds its audience on video the studio can justify financing a sequel. I’m not saying it’s as good as Blade, just that it’s really good but hasn’t been getting much love (but surely will once more people see it). Margot Robbie did a great job as producer/star on this and I would like for her to be rewarded so she can make more cool shit

  7. I find I very specifically like the art-deco style of Gotham in the Burton films and the animated series, so beyond the amusement park set, I didn’t really care for it here.

    Some of Yan’s direction impressed me, especially for 21st century US franchise movie standards, though there are other times (like the scene where Harley brings Cassandra to her apartment) where the camera placement feels uncertain and the scene has no overall visual design.

    I enjoyed this pretty much on the basis of its action scenes, and I hope more comic book movies take this hand-to-hand combat route. The physicality of it is just so much more interesting to watch than a bunch of CG avengers flying in a Staples parking lot. But a big part of this film’s appeal is going to depend on how amusing one finds Harley Quinn, who to me is the least engaging of the movie’s leads.

  8. The Undefeated Gaul

    February 14th, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    I’m really curious about this one. The trailers and some of the released clips kinda turned me off as there seems to be more than a hint of BATMAN & ROBIN in there and from what I saw Robbie’s performance seems a little cringe-worthy. But I keep reading positive reviews and it’s R-rated and it’s apparently got great action… Can’t say whether it will work for me in any way, but now I’m eager to find out for myself.

  9. Wish Mary Elizabeth Winstead had more scenes but all in all i liked this.

    Though i am confused why Bruce hasn’t already pounded Roman into hamburger. The guy is nothing.

  10. Patrick – sorry to be a correcter, but BLADE was actually a pretty big hit. It made $131 million on a $45 million budget. Anyway, I’m curious – is it still possible for a movie to fail in theaters but catch on on video? Are there enough people who pay for VOD rentals or buy discs for that to even be a possibility anymore? I hope so, but I worry that those days are gone.

  11. But how’s Troy McClure’s performance in it?

  12. Vern, I stand corrected! Blade was the first DVD I ever bought and I wore my player out with it

  13. I have skipped this so far because I thought the trailers looked terrible, and I’m a big enough fan of Bat-family comics to have rolled my eyes at some of the changes I perceived (That’s supposed to be Cassandra Cain? That’s the costume they went with for Huntress?) but this review, and a couple others, have convinced me to give it a try. I’ll definitely check it out before it exits theaters.

  14. BLADE was the first DVD I bought too! I think it was that and KINGPIN, for some reason. A friend had already given me BARBARELLA.

  15. Not to derail but Vern perfectly echoes my thoughts about JOKER, I like there to be a little Joker in my Joker. It’s cool and all to make a movie about Travis Bickle but they already made that movie before and it was better the first time. In the meantime Vern’s review has actually made me interested in watching this movie.

  16. This is a weird fun romp. I’ve seen this movie compared to Deadpool a lot, which is fair. There the origin stuff slows the movie. Here, It sags and dips after they go to Harry’s apartment and the genre conventions fully take over—the fight choreography is good but the ending feels off and it is a bit grey and foggy probably all shot in a warehouse somewhere, but overall it’s still good. Margot and Ewan are both great and most of the supporting cast is good. I wasn’t crazy about Rosie Perez but it could just be the part. I wish the movie had a few more of the trippy circus visual elements that are in the credits. But it did 10x the job of Joker for giving off a sense of what the city of Gotham and it’s people are like.

  17. I’m bummed that I’ll have to wait until this hits BR/streaming because I kind of want to see it in the theater. Bah.

    But I’m encouraged by Vern’s review. And several others I’ve read. I’ll try to be patient.

  18. I was impressed with BOP’s style and energy for the most part. WB continues to let their directors put their own stamp on things while the Marvel films feel more and more like they’re being directed by the same person. I give WB credit for sticking with the non-linear structure, the cartoony touches, and the R rating. Margot Robbie is outstanding throughout and deserves a lot more credit for all the work she’s doing here. She has to be funny, cartoony, emotional, scummy, caring, convincingly tough, etc and she nails everything.

    I also enjoyed the practical action and would much rather see well choreographed punching and kicking than a bunch of CG pre-vis and superhero poses. Harley’s whole assault on the police station & police station evidence room is legitimately great. The action only fizzles a bit when all the ladies team-up at the booby trap funhouse. That sequence felt pretty insignificant compared to the HARD-HITTING action we got before it *and* after it. I bet the funhouse sequence is what led to the “we have something here, but we need to punch-up the action sequences” reshoots that were reported.

    Finally, I thought this was much more a movie about stepping out of the shadow of someone and making a name for yourself than it was a ME TOO/THE FUTURE IS FEMALE movie. I think you could easily make this movie with a bunch of dudes and only have to make a few tweaks here and there. I’m confident this movie will find its audience eventually and a lot of people will regret skipping it’s theatrical run.

  19. I don’t know why I feel the need to be the guy who takes this movie (which I like and which deserves to be seen by more people) down a peg, but I still think you guys are really overrating the action. I like practical stunts as much as the next guy, but I think some of you are using your anti-CGI prejudice as an excuse to grade this movie on a curve. It’s a very fun flick with good characters (minus Fake Cassandra Cain), a charming tone, and plentiful action. But with the exception of like two specific beats, there’s nothing exceptional about that action at all. It’s all well done but not memorable. To me, the fun of superhero movies is seeing things I’ve never seen before, or at least in combinations I’ve never seen before, and there’s very little in the BOP set-pieces I haven’t seen many, many, many times before. It doesn’t need to be a competition, since I’m glad that both styles of action exist, but in this instance I’ll take the highly specific, character-based, and yes, computer-enabled superpowered action of a Marvel movie over these skillful but generic and repetitive kicking-and-falling down scenes.

  20. I wish I could find this gif I was just looking at from the funhouse sequence, leading up to the famous hair tie moment. It’s choreography and character and humor and chemistry and cool camerawork all working together in such a comic book-y set, using its features (like the giant rubbery hands) to drive the action. I think of that, and the baseball bat scene, and the rollerskate/car chase, and I’m not saying it compares to a JOHN WICK or THE VILLAINESS, but I don’t think we’re exaggerating how much more fun it is than the action in most super hero movies. I hope non-super-powered BLACK WIDOW has stuff like that in addition to the digital skydiving type stuff in the trailer.

  21. Saw this tonight after seeing your recommendation. Really enjoyed it as a fun movie that I’d watch again if it came on TV.

    I really liked that amid all of the high kicking super vigilantes Renee Montoya is just a stocky cop punching people with knuckle dusters

    MEW was awesome as a trapped in Childhood assassin with great comic delivery.

    Chris Messina nearly stole the whole villain show for me though.

  22. You’re probably not wrong Mr M. I remember them as a whole but the only thing I really remember is the part with Huntress jumping on those things to best people up. I like stuff like that.

    Still wish we had more martial artist women in these roles. Like no reason why Amy Johnston shouldn’t be a lead in any of these movies.

    Btw M, I’m still not taking your advice because I’m reading what you write. I think before I wasn’t reading but I wasn’t listening. Taking the tome in the Internet lately is really helpful for me. So thanks.

  23. The scrunchie exchange was nice. More quirks like that would have helped. But man, i just don’t see how anybody could see these fine but standard melees as superior to the grand battles of the Avengers movies. I see superhero movies for superpowers. I want all the zooming around and eyeball lasers money can buy. I can get a passable roundhouse kick anywhere but where else am I going to see a Norse god decimate a horde of alien attack dogs with a lightning strike? There’s nothing wrong with the practical approach for BOP because none of these characters have skill sets that require much in the way of augmentation, and it’s not like I would have complained about the quality of the action, but I’m surprised everybody was so impressed. It all seemed pretty boilerplate to me.

    The roller skate chase and the leg-breaking were definitely cool. And the practical full-body explosion was really appreciated. Seems like years since I seen one of those on the big screen.

  24. Amy Johnston is an exceptional talent. She deserves to be a lead in a big movie.

  25. Aside from the movies Chad Stahelski and David Leitch have directed and parts of James Wan’s Aquaman, I can’t really think of any recent Hollywood movies that have practical action on the level of BOP’s police station raid and rollerskate chase. I don’t think those two sequences are the greatest action scenes of all time, but they’re well shot and full of well executed, high level stunt work. I’d like to see more of that in mainstream Hollywood action movies.

  26. I guess I’m the one underrating the action. Maybe it’s because I recently watched 6 UNDERGROUND and frankly everything’s been a little underwhelming ever since.

  27. Oh yeah I loved 6 UNDERGROUND. The action is sometimes a bit messy due to Bay’s shot choices and hyper-editing, but there are a ton of great, practical gags.

  28. I loved every single hyperactive shot and editing choice in that movie. It felt like the most high-test blast of pure cinema I’d taken direct to the facial region in a very long time.

  29. Have I mentioned I found 6 Underground boring? I think a lot of it was A) Don’t care about anybody in the movie and B) sometimes too much is boring.

  30. Oh, man. She has quite a resume, including THEY LIVE, DIE HARD 2 and being Renee Russo’s stunt double in the LETHAL WEAPONs. Sad story.

  31. Sternshein – I can see some Charlie’s Angels-era Sam Rockwell in McGregor’s performance, but my first thought was “Holy Shit this guy is the son of Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard in Hudson Hawk”. I absolutely loved his flamboyant, menacing, sexually ambiguous performance where he seemed to be making every line delivery up as he went along. It’s fun as hell and HOT TAKE I thought he was better than Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. That’s not the only Hudson Hawk influence here – the egg sandwich subplot is pretty much the cappuccino bit, and I like that a sidekick also gets blown up and pops back up alive at the end with zero explanation. Plus there’s old-timey musical numbers and the rollerskate chase actually reminded me alot of the ambulance sequence (I was half-expecting Harley to go “You guys ok!?!” after that car of bad guys blows up)

    Anyways, I think I loved this movie more than anyone here – I have no idea who Cathy Yan is, and even if every single action sequence was ghost-directed, her next movie is still a must-see for me. Her grasp on story-telling and character development and her ability to get great performances out of every single cast member really makes this the most consistent and well-rounded DCEU entry yet. Not to mention the movie’s well-paced and isn’t 2 1/2 Goddamn hours long. But yeah, those fight scenes! I loved them so much I think I teared up a bit when I realized the climax was just going to be 5 women beating up a hundred Warriors-style masked gang members instead of stopping a countdown or shutting down a giant blue laser in the sky (which Harley actually already did in the last movie).

    I think another reason I loved the action sequences besides the technical aspects, was there was a lot of character development built in. Like, Black Canary’s posture and fighting style seemed practical and stiff – she fights like a character who took a bunch of classes at the strip mall and was really good at it, not some graceful Beckinsale/Jovovich/Black Widow clone. Also the movie establishes Harley as this fuckup social pariah that everybody is annoyed with or hates, but once she pulls off her Terminator-esque raid on the police station, you realize she’s like Jeff Bridges’ Wild Bill or Kilmer’s Doc Holliday – this goofy clown who hides their legendary skills under the guise of playing a buffoon. Then when she goes one-on-one with Montoya, sure it’s not a particularly classic or memorable fight, but the movie tells us this 55 year old cop can hold her own against a possibly super-powered villain just by sheer will – it may not make sense but I loved it. (DOES Harley have super powers, by the way? Like was the vat of acid equal to a Spider bite or Super Soldier Serum? I’m curious to know what’s canon.)

    Anyways, yeah I can’t shut up about this movie since I’ve seen it and it bums me out that we’re so obsessed with box office that we’re quick to label everything a huge flop or a disappointment because we always need some story to talk about.

  32. Pretty sure the movie version of Harley is just a crazy person who’s a good fighter and a highly skilled acrobat.

  33. Yeah I didn’t really try to rationalise this movie (like in everything superheroish except Daredevil S1, no one has a V02 uptake maximum.) But I guess Harley has a sort of permanent PCP high effect if you wanted to explain her being so good at fighting.

    I did really appreciate the absence of super powered kicks/punches a la the “waif fu” era*

    *Angelina Jolie lightly kicking people through walls killed any engagement I might have felt with Salt

  34. I tried watching 6 Underground. I really did. But for me, after the opening action sequence the film has nothing to offer. Absolutely nothing. Even the action scenes are kinda crap. The most boring film I’ve seen in the last 12 months.

  35. I’m pretty sure crazy is considered a superpower in Gotham City.

  36. Wow, this one was a huge swing and a miss for me. I’m really glad it exists, and that they could take this much of a chance doing something different. Granted, it is almost the same in tone and style as Deadpool, but we don’t get many if any female driven action movies (at least groups of women, not single lead).

    The whole last 45 minutes for me was garbage. Just mind numbing action that I have seen in a million movies. I saw this opening night, which was what, a few weeks ago? And I for the life of me cant remember what the hell they were fighting about or for. Some diamond.

    Again, kudos for giving it a shot. But I just didn’t like it.

  37. As someone who has to this day only seen the original AVENGERS movie I’d take the police station break in from this movie over any action sequence in that. I was shocked by how well executed that was all the way by the time she reached the dude who got the leg and arm break by the mini van I was grinning in pure delight. That was the best piece of action in any of these MAN OF STEEL universe joints since Batman v Warehouse Goons.

  38. Also we now have a movie universe where John McLane’s kids have actually palled around with The Joker’s main squeeze. I don’t know exactly what that means but it seems awesome.

  39. Apologies on the ommision of the extra c in McClane. This phone auto corrects too much without even asking me.

  40. Also Vern in light of this being one of the only other action joints in cinemas around right now have you given BAD BOYS FOR LIFE a shot? As someone who always shared the same sentiments about BAD BOYS II as you I think you’ll find a lot to actually enjoy. Some wacky shit action wise all over that one too. But in a good way and not an overindulgent Uncle Mike Bay way.

  41. For those, like me, who hate seeing the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Winstead slumming in mediocre fare like this and yearn to see her headlining her own kick-ass action movie, Netflix’s KATE should fit the bill nicely.

    Neveldine/Taylor’s CRANK still remains the most batshit and surreal take on “Assassin is fatally poisoned and has 24 hours to track down his killers” but KATE benefits greatly from Winstead’s terrific performance, shading regret and compassion into her stone cold killer and in the process leap-frogging through the script’s predictability and frequent implausibility with aplomb.

    That, and some pretty good 87Eleven choreographed carnage makes this a pretty decent watch in my book.

  42. I didn’t care for KATE much. Winstead is good but this felt like another tired by the numbers action entry. I especially hated the kid she was paired with.

  43. Felix, yeah, I’ll concede after XTREME, GUNPOWDER MILSHAKE and now KATE, we need a moratorium on “Stone Cold Bad-Ass re-discovers long dormant humanity upon meeting troubled/annoying Teen”.

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