Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn shines in spinoff

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn shines in spinoff


Find something you love as much as Harley Quinn loves egg sandwiches, leg-breaking shenanigans and blowing up whatever suits her at a given moment.

Margot Robbie’s insanely charming comic-book antagonist from the much-maligned “Suicide Squad” is a demon on roller skates and a jilted lover who’s ready to take her town by storm in “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).” The latest DC superhero movie (★★★ out of four; rated R; in theaters nationwide Friday) isn’t quite a solo jam for Harley, nor has she gone straight, but it is an entertaining lark that introduces a few good women – and four-letter curse words – into the canon of Superman and Batman.

In Gotham City, Harley is the infamous moll and girlfriend of the Joker (the Jared Leto version, not the Joaquin Phoenix one) but as “Birds” begins, the criminal twosome has split up. After a down period (symbolized by the mainlining of Easy Cheese into her motormouth), she bounces back as the “new me” and embraces her freedom, even adopting a pet hyena and naming it Bruce, one of many Bat-references.

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Cassandra (Ella Jay Basco, left) and Harley (Margot Robbie) are breakfast-cereal pals in "Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)."

Now that Harley’s single and not under Joker’s protection, though, every hood and crook she ever wronged wants revenge, including crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask. This cruel sort is trying to obtain a valuable diamond, which teenage pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) scores and then swallows when she’s about to be busted by cops.

When Roman puts a bounty on Harley’s head, she breaks Cass out of the police station to retrieve the diamond and return it to the gangster so they can be square, but Harley and the girl become fast friends, robbing a grocery store and tearing into bowls of sugary cereal. Their plight ultimately leads to them teaming up with three other women who aren’t big Black Mask fans: world-weary GCPD detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), club singer/hypersonic screamer Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and crossbow-wielding vigilante Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Rosie Perez (from left), Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, Ella Jay Basco and Jurnee Smollett-Bell are the girl gang of "Birds of Prey."

Director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson (“Bumblebee”) have created a fun “Girls rule, guys drool” ethos: In one action scene you won’t see in an “Avengers” film, Harley bonks a random henchman in the head with a hammer before handing a hair tie to Dinah, aka Black Canary, so her long locks don’t get in the way of throwing down. Dinah and Helena, an antiheroine with rage issues who goes by Huntress, are as essential to “Birds” working as Harley, and some of the best stuff comes when Yan has these women just sitting around drinking margaritas or waiting for Cass’ laxatives to kick in.


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