Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Haley Quinn) plays like a twisted, punk comic book version of John Cassavetes' 1980 film Gloria. In that film, a gangster's lady friend (Gena Rowlands) ends up protecting a young boy who is being chased by the mob. In the new comic book come to life - and Suicide Squad spin off - Birds of Prey, psychologist gone mad, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) protects a young pickpocket, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who has a price on her head thanks to crime lord Roman Sionis (an effectively slimy Ewan McGregor). Because The Joker has broken up with her, Quinn also has a bunch of thugs seeking her out for their own retribution. A burlesque singer with a powerful voice (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is also looking to save Cassandra. And what's the deal with the mysterious crossbow vigilante (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? Can Gotham City Detective Montoya (Rosie Perez) find the girl in time? Will all these women come together to fight Sionis and his seemingly unending supply of henchmen?
Birds of Prey is fast-paced comic book fun. Robbie owns this character and is clearly having a good time. Director Cathy Yan and screenwriter Christina Hodson play with the conventional narrative structure by having the character of Quinn narrate the story, but she's a bad storyteller and will forget crucial plot details, so she has to back up the story (and film) several times to explain it all. Winstead's character gets big laughs because she is always annoyed that everyone refers to her as "The Crossbow Killer" instead of her vigilante name, "The Huntress".
The fight scenes could have used a little less dance music accompaniment, but then again the fight sequence set in an abandoned amusement park is well choreographed and edited and pretty damn cool.
What's best about Birds of Prey is that it doesn't take itself too seriously.