Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

also known as “Birds of Prey: The Emancipation of Harley Quinn,” “Aves de presa (y la fantabulosa emancipación de Harley Quinn),” “Aves de presa y la fantabulosa emancipación de una Harley Quinn,” “Aves de Rapina: Arlequina e sua Emancipação Fantabulosa,” See more »
MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Crime Action Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
2020
USA Release:
February 7, 2020 (wide—4,236 theaters)
DVD: May 12, 2020
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Corruption

About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

Childhood traumas

Revenge

About murder

About death

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

What is SEXUAL IMMORALITY? Answer

SEXUAL LUST outside of marriage—Why does God strongly warn us about this? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

What about Gays needs to change? AnswerIt may not be what you think.

GAY—What’s wrong with being Gay? Answer

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Featuring: Margot RobbieHarley Quinn / Harleen Quinzel
Mary Elizabeth WinsteadHelena Bertinelli / Huntress
Jurnee Smollett-BellDinah Lance / Black Canary
Ewan McGregorRoman Sionis / Black Mask
Bojana NovakovicErika
Rosie PerezRenee Montoya—police detective
Ali Wongan associate of Renee Montoya in Gotham law enforcement
Chris MessinaVictor Zsasz
See all »
Director: Cathy Yan
Producer: Clubhouse Pictures
DC Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Frenetic, sadistically ultraviolent, Feminist empowerment fantasy with one bad message after another

Prequel: “Suicide Squad” (2016)

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Let me provide a quick recap of the events of “Suicide Squad.” Basically, after the battle between two famous superheroes, a high level U.S. Government official, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), is deeply interested in starting a program in which metahumans (humans with special abilities or powers) are enlisted to protect and defend cities from enemies, in case that in the future, as the official points out, the next “so-called superhero from another planet does not share our values.” These meta-humans, however, are actually some of the most dangerous criminals the world has ever known: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the infamous assistant and girlfriend of the Joker (Jared Leto), Deadshot (Will Smith), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Kroc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Slipknot (Adam Beach). These five unlikely criminals come together to defeat the Enchantress in one epic battle.

When “Birds of Prey” begins, some time has passed by. Our attention turns to Harleen Quinzel (aka Harley Quinn). Once in the prime of her life, she has suddenly been brought down after Joker breaks up with her for good. At first she is pretty depressed about her predicament, but then realizes she is her own person and must stand on her own two feet, even if it means without the Joker.

Soon, word gets out that Harley is no longer dating the Joker. This means that she doesn’t have the same protection she had before, and everyone she’s wronged wants a piece of her. This includes one insane, yet incredibly dangerous criminal, dubbed The Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) who tells Harley that she needs to help him recover a diamond that was stolen from him by a young girl, Cassandra Cain… or else.

The clock is ticking.

When the first film in this series, “Suicide Squad,” came out, it did NOT sit well with most critics. As Mr. McParland said in his review, the film might be compared to “Guardians of the Galaxy” in some respects but “Suicide Squad,” plot-wise, is completely different. “Suicide Squad” starts off with a strong plot, strong overall pacing and even some decent performances, but then becomes a mess at certain points that led to a predictable, rather, lack-luster ending (an “uggggg” ending I call them). One could only hope that any sequels produced would procure more promising results.

There are some improvements in “Birds of Prey” over “Suicide Squad,” thanks in part to Director Yan’s attention to detail in character development and plot. However, there are let-downs as well.

The Good

THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: In “Suicide Squad” we had such an incredible amount of characters thrown in (e.g. The Squad, Flag, Waller, Enchantress, etc.), but not enough time devoted to individual character development. This was especially disappointing considering there are over 2 hours for the film to do this. In “Birds of Prey” we still have a variety of characters (perhaps not as many as “Suicide Squad”), but they do receive some proper character development. The real focus is on Harley Quinn. This is HER movie and Director Yan makes sure we know that.

THE PLOT: It is much more straightforward this time. In “Suicide Squad” the viewer spends ten to twenty minutes with the Squad and then the focus shifts to the Joker and his attempt to rescue Harley Quinn (which, honestly, is a side-plot, that was unnecessary), then the film turns its attention back to the squad. This gets to be a little annoying. In “Birds of Prey,” the focus is on retrieving the diamond, which makes the film less annoying, except for the bad content issues.

The Bad

THE VIOLENCE: The violence doubles down in “Birds of Prey,” some of it very graphic and excessive. I’ll touch upon the violence more in the “Content of Concern” section, but let’s just say this film certainly earned its R-rating. The violent scenes are near constant throughout the movie, with very little time for the viewer to catch their breath.

THE LANGUAGE: Wow, the crude and vulgar language in “Birds of Prey” is so constant I sat there wishing I had a pair of noise-canceling headphones, particularly for the use of the f-bomb (over 75 uses in a variety of different ways!)

MORAL OF STORY/LACK OF REDEMPTION FROM CHARACTERS: In the end, no one changes for the better. *MINOR SPOILER* Harley Quinn takes young Cassandra under her wing and tutors her in the criminal life. Instead of thinking to herself, “Hey maybe I shouldn’t encourage Cassandra to end up where I am right now,” she actually promotes that sinful life and gives her tips and skills to become a more effective criminal. *END MINOR SPOILER* The moral of the story becomes crime pays when you have the right people by your side.

PROMOTION OF HOMOSEXUALITY: There is a Lesbian relationship evident between two female characters, played by Rosie Perez and Ali Wong. In addition, the main antagonist Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is portrayed as both a Gay and heterosexual fornicator (bisexual)—attracted to both the flamboyant Victor Zsasz character and Black Canary/Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). There was absolutely NO NEED for this in the film whatsoever. It was simply inserted to comply with the politically-correct requirements of the current Lefist agenda.

Content of Concern

VIOLENCE: Extreme. Harley breaks a guy’s legs by jumping on them. She releases the brakes on a truck and allows it roll right into a chemical factory, causing a mass explosion. Three guys are shot in the chest multiple times, and one is shot in the throat with a crossbow. A man’s face is peeled off by Black Mask (we actually hear him scream as this is done, and from a distance we can partially see the victim without his face). A man threatens a woman by saying, “I’m gonna peel off that face, then pickle it.” Harley’s pet hyena bites someone’s leg off (bloody). Women beat men hard with baseball bats (bloody). A guy in a van is shot, and the van runs over a guy in a wheelchair. A man is shot in the throat with a poisonous dart. We watch, twice, in a flashback, an entire family being gunned down by gangsters (there is blood everywhere, and we witness their corpses on the ground). Harley is almost raped. Men have their legs beaten and broken. Characters are choked. A guy’s beard is lit on fire. A girl throws a stick of dynamite out a car window at a car behind them. A man is run over with a cart. Harley is slammed into a car. A person explodes into pieces, graphically (brief). A guy has needles injected into his head. (Please note that this is only a partial list of the violence in the film.)

VULGARITY: Extreme. F**k (71), Motherf***er (3 plus 4+ in a song, but there are multiple uses of the word throughout the song that were too quick for me to count), an obscene gesture (2), d*ck (3), v*gina (1), sl*t (1), b*tch (2), a**-hole (6), a** (8), bad-a*ss (1), sh*t (17), sh*t-show (1), sh*t-faced (1), cr*p (1), turd (1), t*ts (1), “girls” (meaning breasts), and “gotta take a leak.” There is also quite a bit of vulgar language in the credits music at the movie’s end.

PROFANITY: Heavy. J*sus (1), J*sus Chr*st (1), Oh J*sus Christmas (1), “G*d d*mn,” Oh my G*d (1), Oh G*d (1), Swear to G*d (1), Holy sh*t (1), Holy f**k, H*ll (4), damn (3)

SEXUAL CONTENT: A picture of a crossed-out eggplant is shown (the eggplant being an emoji used to represent a man’s genitals). Someone mentions to Harley he’ll accept payment of any kind (clearly implying sex). A woman wears a shirt that says, “I shaved my b*lls for this shirt.” We see animation of sperm heading towards a human egg.

NUDITY: Moderately Heavy. Harley Quinn wears tight clothing and some of it is rather revealing. Other female characters wear revealing outfits. A man is forced to rip a woman’s dress off (we see her bra and panties very briefly before the camera pans away). There are bare-breasted pictures of nude women in some of the pictures used in the credits.

OTHER: Reaching into a woman’s pants pocket, a man pulls out a tampon. Someone is seen pickpocketing people in a few instances. A character steals a truck. Harley gives a girl advice on how to become a proper criminal. A woman vomits goo into a purse.

ALCOHOL: There are several scenes involving alcohol. People are seen drinking at a night club, and one character is seen getting very drunk.

There are absolutely no redeeming morals or themes I can draw from this film.

Closing Thoughts

Despite the large improvements that are found in this sequel, let me be very clear, in NO WAY does this film even come CLOSE to receiving a recommendation from me. The excessive, and sometimes graphic violence, never-ending use of vulgarity, profanity, sexual content and promotion of lesbianism on screen are enough for me to dissuade any discerning Christian from viewing this film. Please DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN to see “Birds of Prey.” I was absolutely appalled that to see a parent take what I believed was their son, who couldn’t have been older than 8 or 9 years of age, to the screening I attended.

Be like the birds and fly very, VERY far away from this film!

  • Violence: Extreme
  • Profane language: Heavy
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Extreme
  • Nudity: Moderately Heavy
  • Sex: Heavy
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Moderately Heavy
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative
Negative—This is a truly disgusting film. The fact that it features the villain (actually there are no good guys) skinning people’s faces off while they are still alive (we see the peeled face of one) is reason enough to leave the movie, but the violence, gore, language, and subject matter do not end there.

The “heroine” is herself a psychotic killer who enjoys killing people; especially men. Yes, the modern American Feminist heroine literally seems to be all about killing men. We have come a long way from the 1960s Batman to an era where the Joker and Harley Quinn are now gory R-rated sadistic movies where they are the anti-hero protagonists!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Dr. David, age Oldish (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…Like other big-studio exercises in pseudo-subversion (very much including “Deadpool”), “Birds of Prey” is happy to play at provocation with swear words and violence while carefully declining to provoke anything like a thought. …
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
…an unholy and sadistic mess… Aiming to celebrate empowerment, the comic-book villain instead stumbles toward sadism. …
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
Movies don’t get any worse… “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is more than horrible. It should not exist. Money should never have been raised for it. The screenplay should never have been filmed. Margot Robbie shouldn’t have produced it. She certainly shouldn’t have starred in it. It’s just a terrible thing to inflict on audiences, who, after all, didn’t hurt anyone and just hoped to have a nice time. …
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
…a mixture of good and bad ideas all mashed together. …a breezy, amoral lark…
Tim Grierson, Screen Daily
…the female characters are diverse in terms of ethnicity, age, and sexual identity, and are all shown to be clever, tough, and resilient. All of the movie’s men, on the other hand, are either bad or disappointing. …
Common Sense Media
…If you found yourself internally screaming for Ryan Reynolds to shut the h*ll up during “Deadpool,” then the relentless, zany narration of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn will likely send you gibbering and ruined towards the emergency exit after, oh, 23 seconds. …
Tara Brady, The Irish Times
…I doubt that anyone will adore it as much as it evidently adores itself…
Nicholas Barber, BBC
…a barrage of bone-crunching mayhem… proceeds to assault the senses in much the way its protagonist wields a baseball bat… those action scenes—while plentiful—aren’t staged with much imagination, and a steady diet of blunt-object blows to the head and kicks to the groin eventually becomes more numbing than exciting. …
Brian Lowry, CNN
…burlesque in blood… somewhat heartless exercise in ultraviolence… “Birds of Prey” is all empowered with no idea what to do with that power, nothing of consequence, anyway. …[2/4]
Roger Moore, Movie Nation
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—Haven’t watched it yet, but through clips on YouTube and assorted media, feel I can already come to a few conclusions. First, the title, it should have been called Harley Quin, maybe even Harley vs. Jokey, though he’s not really in it. Adding his menace might have made it better. “The Birds of Prey” movie shows little to no understanding of the heroes gathered originally by Oracle/Batgirl. Marketing efforts were poor. Ewan McGregor pretty much sunk it by going on about it fighting misogyny. Basic premise: the birds vs. Black Mask, trying to survive and beat him. Not a very original idea, been there and done it on so many levels already. Prediction: It will pale in comparison to Wonder Woman sequel.
David V. Pyle, age 55 (USA)