Who hasn’t gone through a real bad break-up and fantasised about raising unholy hell?
If you’re DC Comics’ anti-heroine Harley Quinn, as played by twice Oscar-nominated home girl Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey, you don’t dream.
You do it.
Endearingly bat poop crazy, the Gotham City siren’s second live-action appearance is a sugar rush of female-driven, ass-kicking nuttiness.
Subtitled And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, the film is a fluoro-coloured firecracker, directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) and penned by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee).
Freshly dumped by her (literally) toxic ex “pudding”, aka the Joker – played by Jared Leto in the much-maligned Suicide Squad but only briefly referenced in cartoon form here – Harley takes back power in her attention deficit way.
Expect regular interruptions as she narrates who’s who and what’s what, jumping back and forward deliriously.
Drinking to forget in a nightclub owned by psychopathic mob boss Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (a scenery-chewing Ewan McGregor) leads to trouble.
When word gets out Harley is no longer Joker’s girl, a city-full of bad guys wants to get even.
Sparking a city-wide womanhunt, it forces Harley into a series of unlikely alliances, including reluctantly taking young pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) under her wing.
True Blood’s Jurnee Smollett-Bell has oodles of charisma as Dinah Lance aka Black Canary, a singer at Sionis’s club with a killer voice.
She bounces brilliantly off Robbie, and the joy of this madcap movie’s blurred lines means most folks are playing both sides.
Then there’s a no-nonsense Rosie Perez (Rise) as frustrated cop Renee Montoya, trying to build a case against Sionis when official channels want her to drop it.
It’s a shame Birds of Prey doesn’t reference her queerness in the comics.
Fargo star Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s snarky Helena Bertinelli has the least to do.
Most of the meat goes to Ella Mika as a younger Helena in flashbacks detailing her rival mafia family’s massacre.
A running joke about her chosen anti-heroine moniker Huntress being slow to catch on is fun.
The major disappointment for fans clued-up on the comics is the inexplicable erasure of Cassandra’s kick-ass backstory.
The daughter of two of DC’s deadliest assassins – Lady Shiva and David Cain – she was raised to follow in their footsteps, rebelled and eventually took on the mantle of Batgirl.
That the creative team overlooked this is odd, given the girl power theme, but a nod to abusive step-parents leaves the door open for a later reveal.
With a frenetic Kill Bill energy, Birds of Prey never takes itself too seriously.
Except for one genuinely chilling moment when a menacing McGregor’s Sionis forces a woman’s partner to cut her dress open, as aided by snarling henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina, Sharp Objects).
Powerful, it has horrible shades of Hollywood predators.
But mostly the movie embraces the glorious absurdity of these camp characters a la Tim Burton’s Batman Returns.
Like that film, it doesn’t shy away from the twisted nature of dressing up to smackdown, vigilante-style.
There’s even a subtle nod to Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic Catwoman in Harley’s explosive way of getting over Joker.
The MA15+ rated movie is surprisingly violent, with almost all of that directed at male goons.
A vocal part of social media will probably get majorly cranky about this, even though the same folks almost certainly love the comparable Deadpool.
It’s a hoot, right down to Harley naming her pet hyena Bruce (does she know a certain someone’s true identity?)
Hodson has been tapped to write the upcoming Batgirl movie.
On the back of this ebulliently bonkers outing, re-team her with Yan now please.
Birds of Prey is in Australian cinemas now