‘Birds of Prey’ soars above expectations

This article may contain spoilers for “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.”

There’s a saying that goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” However, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” highlights a group of unique women coming together against a common enemy.

The movie, narrated by Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) picks up where the 2016 film “Suicide Squad” leaves off.

After her breakup with the Joker, Harley begins her journey of independence by blowing up the chemical plant where their relationship began.

To make things harder for Harley, many of her enemies now come after her since she no longer has the Joker’s protection.

Meanwhile, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), a nightclub owner and gangster, is on the hunt for a diamond encoded with financial account information from a wealthy family killed years prior.

Roman becomes the common enemy of Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a singer in his nightclub; Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the heiress to the fortune who seeks vengeance as the “Huntress” on those who killed her family; Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), a detective building a case against Roman with little support from her colleagues; and Harley Quinn herself.

In regards to the storytelling, the movie feels almost Tarantino-like.

Interwoven plots and an often nonlinear timeline feel a bit sporadic, yet never to the point of confusion.

Considering Harley is retelling the story, it makes sense that the timeline jumps from point to point but comes together in the end.

The overall feel of the movie is fun, crass and empowering.

“Deadpool” would be a fair comparison In terms of other comic book movies.

The film’s realistic portrayal of character and social issues mixed with colorful and comic-like visuals elevate the quality in a way feels natural and adds to the plot rather than bogging it down.

From the costuming and dialogue down to fight choreography, each character was fairly well-rounded and interesting.

Harley showed audiences a new depth by exhibiting mercy and connecting to those she ran into without losing the eccentric nature she is known for.

The best example of this is her interactions with Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pickpocket who gets caught in the crosshairs of Roman’s plans.

In one sequence, Harley and Cassandra rob a grocery store and go back to Harley’s place where they sit on the couch and watch TV.

Along with Harley, each of the characters receive enough details to become fleshed out.

It’s revealed that Dinah has a troubled past. Because of this, she does what she must to get by but draws the line at hurting innocent people.

Huntress is a cold-blooded killing machine fueled by vengeance, but she starts to come out of her shell after her vengeance is taken.

Montoya, a stereotypical cop, shows the wear and tear of being taken advantage of.

Even the fighting styles portrayed were realistic and unique to each of the women.

For example, Harley used lots of melee weapons and acrobatic skills, which fits her profile as a previous gymnast.

Dinah is seen using kicks and punches in a more “street-style” method, seemingly learned as self-defense from living in rough parts of Gotham.

The fight sequences were dynamic, colorful and violent — everything a comic book film should capture.

The biggest theme of female liberation is portrayed through Harley Quinn.

From dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship to the unwanted sexual advances of men, Harley’s experiences reflect the struggles that many women deal with in real life and within the film industry.

One of the most notable steps Harley makes toward independence is in her clothing choices.

“Suicide Squad” had her in skimpy shorts, tall stilettos and a torn white T-shirt that said “Daddy’s Little Monster.”

Now, Harley’s clothing often involves more coverage, color and comfort.

The white T-shirt worn for a large portion of the movie can be taken as a subtle nod to her previous attire.

Now, she no longer places her identity in the Joker and instead wears a shirt adorned with her own name.

However, each character had their own personal demons, from neglect to poverty. Many of their problems played into their gender.

Montoya, for example, has solved multiple cases only for her male coworkers to take the credit for them.

During a short dream-like sequence occurring due to head trauma caused by Roman, Harley is seen performing a rendition of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Originally sung by Carol Channing, the song was later popularized by Marilyn Monroe in the film version. Marilyn’s iconic pink dress now is turned into a pink pantsuit for Harley.

Pantsuits are typically seen as a symbol of power for women, representing Harley’s significant ego change in this scene. It shows that she remains a powerful woman even while getting beaten down by a man.

To accompany the film, a soundtrack for the movie was released with original songs performed by a number of female artists.

The songs, such as “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat and “Diamonds” by Megan Thee Stallion and Normani are upbeat and empowering.

From production to execution, all involved did an amazing job creating a quality film based around female experiences.

Notable contributors were writer Christina Hodson and director Cathy Yan.

What I expected to simply be a fun, “girl-power” film proved to be visually and thematically appealing for adult audiences.

“Birds of Prey” far exceeded my expectations.