A good movie will draw you into the world it has created and make you feel part of it. So much so, that there’s a chance you’ll leave the theater after with a bit of an adrenaline rush. Maybe the latest Bond flick has you feeling like you can be the next 007. Maybe an over-the-top car chase has you pressing on the gas pedal and drifting like a pro. Maybe the story of a talented musician has you thinking you could pick up a guitar and strum a perfect rhythm.
Most of the time we’re left with wanting more. We want something similar, yet new at the same time. You don’t want to watch the same film again, you want to watch something that pairs nicely
Here at ScreenAge Wasteland, we’ve selected six films that you should watch after Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
Atomic Blonde | Marmaduke Karlston
Riding high off the success of John Wick, David Leitch gave us a new badass spy in his first credited directorial effort. Charlize Theron leads a stellar cast as MI6 field agent Lorraine Broughton, who has to hunt down a list of double agents on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Although it never reaches the heights of any John Wick chapter, Atomic Blonde still has better set pieces and choreography than any modern action film. I’d even go as far as to state that Atomic Blonde is a better James Bond film than 50% of Craig’s outings. Theron’s Broughton may be rough around the edges, but, like Bond, she’ll get the mission completed whether she has to go through a few dozen bullets or not.
Red Sparrow | Cody Legens
Red Sparrow saw Jennifer Lawrence reunite with her Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence to create an espionage thriller. Jennifer Lawrence plays a ballerina who suffers an injury at the top of her career. She is subsequently recruited into Sparrow School, a Russian intelligence service, in order to keep her life and take care of her mother.
Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Dominika, has incredible development and gives Lawrence the opportunity to give us her full range as an actress. Dominika quickly learns in order to survive – she needs to play chess while her counterparts are playing checkers. Red Sparrow may be more talk than action, but it has an incredibly satisfying payoff in the end. While you’re at it, watch Red Sparrow to gear up for this summer’s Black Widow.
Mad Max: Fury Road | Romona Comet
Max Rockatansky may be the titular character, but let’s face it, we all know Mad Max: Fury Road is Furiosa’s movie. Set several years after the collapse of civilization, Imperator Furiosa risks her life by defying the tyrannical Immortan Joe by smuggling his five wives out of the Citadel. She plans on escaping with the wives to the green land, aware that Immortan Joe would not take the betrayal lightly. Furiosa is certainly not prepared for Max’s presence, but the two are forced to find some common ground and work together if they plan to survive.
This is Max’s story as much as it is Furiosa’s, but it is Furiosa who is the emotional core and quite frankly, the movie’s strength. There is a reason that the five wives, and soon Max himself, look to Furiosa for leadership. She is calm and defiant in the face of continuous danger, never hesitating to risk life and limb in order to keep the rig moving across the desert wasteland. Even when Furiosa is faced with devastation, she doesn’t allow it to break her. She continues moving forward.
Furiosa’s search for redemption is quite evident in her actions, as is her desire to find hope in a ruined place. Throughout the movie, it becomes quite clear to Max that his only chance of survival lies with Furiosa. And perhaps his own redemption as well.
Tank Girl | Sailor Monsoon
There’s a famous quote about how Ginger Rogers was as good or better than her male counterparts because, and I’m paraphrasing here, “she did everything they did but backward and in heels” and while Harley Quinn isn’t known for her fancy footwear, the same sentiment could be applied to her and the Joker. She immediately struck a chord with fans because she did everything Mr. J did and more. She was just as crazy, just as anarchic and when she finally severed her ties with him, became far more fun. She’s an agent of chaos who does whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Just like a certain Australian antihero who has a penchant for knocking boots with mutated kangaroo men.
Although she debuted 3 years before Miss Quinzell, it’s hard to say whether or not Tank Girl served as an inspiration or if their personalities are merely coincidental but the fact remains, the two are strikingly similar. The only difference being that Tank Girl lives in a post-apocalyptic future and that Harley doesn’t own a tank…. yet. While the 1995 film adaptation isn’t nearly as good as the comic, it did at least capture the essence of the character. Lori Petty is clearly having a blast blowing shit up and making snarky quips and just generally causing havoc for everyone around her. I can’t in good conscience call Tank Girl a good movie but if you want a film that has the same punk rock attitude with a female lead that’s just as wild, you can do far worse.
Hanna | Bob Cram
Before she was Lady Bird, before she was Jo, Saiorse Ronan starred in this taught, violent action-thriller by the director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. This movie is kind of like if John Wick had been raised by Erik Bana and had his childhood dog killed by Cate Blanchett and was also a teen girl. And genetically modified.
Okay, it’s not really like John Wick, but it’s an odd beast of a film – part road movie, part super-hero origin, part spy thriller, part carnage-filled action move. It starts in a wintery nowhere with Bana’s Erik Heller raising Hanna to be a remorseless killer, carries through an action-packed escape from captivity, meanders into a road trip/coming of age film before finally jumping the rails into a number of violent set pieces and a bizarre mythology with genetic engineering, ex-spy assassins, and Grimm’s fairy tales.
Okay, it kinda IS a little like John Wick. The film is carried amazingly well by a teenage Ronan. She dominates every scene she’s in and even manages to match heavy-hitters Bana and Blanchett, no easy task. I remember the first time I saw it I thought “this actress is going places” and she definitely has. The story was convoluted and odd but carried just enough energy and detail that I wanted more. Luckily Amazon has obliged with a 2019 series – which is worth a watch as well.
Widows | Mitch Roush
Birds of Prey is a high-octane squad flick that somehow manages to both check all the boxes of “action movie expectation” while still subverting the trope for all the right reasons. (A feat remarkable in its own right.) That’s why a perfect double-feature pairing is last season’s under-seen but ever addicting Widows (2018). If you’re looking for a film packing pure heat, intelligence, and a deliciously unapologetic lady squad–Steve McQueen’s prestige heist title re-defines the standard.
I mean, if Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, and Elizabeth Debicki aren’t enough to lure you in then you may need a check-up. McQueen’s subtle touch with the camera remains a sign of a craftsman above most of his counterparts, and, through his symbolic framing, we’re thrust into a narrative that slowly unravels as much as it electrifies. Widows deserved better than we gave it…or perhaps it’s we who don’t deserve a genre film of this nuanced and insightful caliber. Either way, this packs a wallop and a slow burn. Not many can boast that with a straight face and actually deliver the goods.
Those are our pairings; now it’s your turn. What do you think would pair nicely with Birds of Prey?