'Birds of Prey' review: A wacky action adventure with black humour

Birds of Prey

Cast: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina

Director: Cathy Yan

Rating: * * * *

Wildly entertaining, this camp, revenge-fuelled origins caper revolving around characters from the DC multiverse is a smorgasbord of diversity, black humour, sadism, gore, vigilantism and skewed values.

Set in (BatMan's) Gotham City, the comic book movie showcases the formation of the titular girl gang comprising traumatised vengeful Huntress ( Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Dinah Lance aka

Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) cop Renee Montoyao (Rosie Perez), and above all, Harley Quinn(Margot Robbie) who serves as narrator.

Right off, the audience learns from the narrator - sassy psychiatrist that she has been ditched by the "Joker", that her real name is Harleen Quinzel, and that she was abandoned as a baby and raised in a Catholic orphanage run by... (Hollywood's favourite) nasty nuns.

Exciting action set pieces and flashy animated sequences dot the narrative whose principal anti-heroine reminds you of Deadpool. Harley though is selfish and self-serving unlike Black Canary and Montoyao who are altruistic. But, like Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, Harley's backstory evokes sympathy.

Interestingly, the men, without exception, are either evil or feckless.The most villainous of the lot ia cruel crimelord Roman Sionis aka Black Mask ( Ewan MacGregor) whose sadistic henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) slices off the faces of opponents at the Boss's bidding.

The second half of the film harks to the sexual and gender assaults by vile men on women in real life. (Alas and alack, yours truly has experienced vicious sexual trolling online.)

But director Yan has tongue firmly in cheek even as her film extols teamwork, friendship and female empowerment through women who stand up to misogynists in, as the singing Canary croons, " a Man's World".

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