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Margot Robbie’s talent is wasted in dreary ‘Birds of Prey’

Two stars (out of four)

This is somewhat a sequel to “Suicide Squad”, which was a big flop. “Suicide Squad” had the same characters led by the Joker, a character whose movie this year is up for multiple Oscars. I hope he doesn’t get them, but the Joker in “Suicide Squad” was played by Jared Leto and his main squeeze, Harley Quinn, was played by Margot Robbie.

She was actually the best thing in “Suicide Squad”, which was a very dreary, difficult movie to watch that really tried to go darker than any comic book movie before it. This one is also incredibly dark. There is from beginning to end lots and lots of sadistic violence, but this is a different brand of sadistic violence.

Every male character in this film is loathsome and deserves to have horrible, violent things done to them and all those horrible, violent things are done. They’re done by a group of women who become the birds of prey. The actual title for the film is “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.”

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Margot Robbie is up for an Oscar this year for her “Bombshell” role. She is an absolutely wonderful actress. She was also nominated for an Oscar for her Tonya Harding movie. She produced this and she’s obviously prodigiously talented, but boy is she ever wasted in this movie, and her performance doesn’t work in any sense. She has kind of an off-again, on-again New York accent.

Part of the film is supposed to be funny. It’s very dark humor, and the only humanizing touch that they have for the Harley Quinn character is that she loves egg sandwiches that are made in a certain way. And then she will interrupt her eating an egg sandwich to kill various people.

These are women who are all victimized largely by an evil genius played by Ewan McGregor, who tortures everyone because he’s trying to get a huge diamond that has been swallowed — don’t ask — by an abused kid, and so Harley Quinn ends up putting together a group of avenging women.

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There’s one very good performance, which is kind of a star making performance by a young actress whose name is Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Jussie’s sister. She plays a singer called the Black Canary, and her action scenes and nightclub singing scenes were very well done. She is great on screen, and she’s a magnetic and radiant presence and one positive thing in a very, very dreary movie.

Margot Robbie is a truly wonderful talent, but I hope that she doesn’t continue with this Harley Quinn series, even though they are clearly setting up for a sequel here. That seems to me more like a threat than a process.

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