It’s a beautiful thing to see Suicide Squad’s best character released from failed franchise hell.

Birds of Prey marks Harley Quinn’s return to the screen in a film all her own, and Margot Robbie is just as devilish and gleefully insane as the original.

Without the Joker — or anyone else — holding her back, this is Quinn’s show, and Robbie knocks this action role out of the park.

It’s a shame, then, that the film around her doesn’t give her the support she clearly needs. A feminist endeavour — written and directed by women — it’s a film where women get top billing.

And yet, none of it feels fresh as Quinn joins other female superheroes to fight an evil crime lord.

With the stylings of a low-rent Deadpool, way too many sly camera winks and a bit more flair than substance, it’s miles ahead of Suicide Squad but falls short of the brilliance of DC properties like Wonder Woman.

This anti-hero film features a supporting cast including Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, all entertaining here.

But somehow, save for Robbie, it’s the males in the film who are the most interesting. Ewan MacGregor and Chris Messina are delightful and unsettling as crime boss Roman Sionis and his right-hand man Victor Zsasz.

This is a film that’s entertaining, with a lead performance worth raving about, but much like Suicide Squad, it should have had more to it than Robbie as the saving grace.

It’s an interesting marker in the DC anti-hero saga, and a step in the right direction, even if this emancipation doesn’t break fully free of the cinematic trappings of its predecessor.

Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.