Margot Robbie is not short of admirers nowadays but her performance in HarleyQuinn: Birds of Prey,has to be seen to be believed. I usually feel my brain turning to jelly at the prospect of every new, big-budget superhero flick, but theres something about this particular lump of bubblegum that lifts it above the pack and its pretty clear Robbie is the reason.
Its hard to imagine Our Nic or Our Cate playing the deranged, comic-book hellraiser Harley Quinn. Not only is Harley completely over-the-top, addicted to the adrenaline rush of ultra-violence, she also has a cerebral streak. The characters back-story  retold in animated form at the start of this movie is that she was a psychiatrist with a PhD who was assigned the task of examining Batmans nemesis, the Joker. Instead of getting to the bottom of the villains sick mind, she fell for him, and discovered her own inner psychopath.
One of the sources of Harleys appeal is she is a white-collar professional who has thrown it all away for a life of thrill-seeking debauchery. The more conventional way Americas white-collar professionals unleash their rebellious nature is to buy a Harley-Davidson for occasional use on weekends. Perhaps theres a hidden message in Harleys name.
When this story begins, the Joker (who never appears in the film) has just thrown Harley out the door. She is as desolate as any spurned lover, but few jilted girlfriends seek closure by sending an oil tanker speeding into a chemical plant, detonating an almighty explosion. Having worked off her frustrations, Harley begins to find out how many enemies shes made, and how vulnerable she is when no longer the Jokers charming companion.
As well as starring, Margot Robbie also produced and originated the movie. Warner Bros
Throughout the film she sees off a succession of revenge-crazed homicidal maniacs, each introduced with a freeze frame and an irreverent description. The one villain who lingers is Roman Sionis, a sadistic, aspiring crime king whose sidekick has a penchant for peeling off faces. Putting Ewan McGregor in this role qualifies as one of the mysteries of modern casting. He gives it his best shot as a high camp psycho, but its not a good fit.
Theres little to be said for the plot, which serves up a stolen diamond, multiple revenge themes, a non-stop crime wave and a useless police force. Every devices that serves to get characters into the relevant scenes are patently ridiculous. Does it matter?
Director Cathy Yan and scriptwriter Christina Hodson have barely tried to craft a coherent storyline. Instead, theyve given us one of the most brutal displays of girl power ever committed to cinema. Not only is the movie written and directed by women, all the music is by female artists. In the delirious, choreographed action sequences that take up most of the running time, the girls invariably emerge on top.
Harley is thrown together with a diverse bunch of women who are obliged to work together to defeat the baddies. Theres Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Amazonian nightclub singer and arse-kicker; and crossbow killer Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’d like to be known as Huntress, but the name makes everybody laugh. Theres policewoman Renée Montoya (Rosie Perez), who pursues justice but falls out of love with the Department; and teen pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Blasco).
One can see a future for these characters, particularly Smollett-Bell, who looks like the love child of Beyoncé and Arnold Schwarzenegger.