TL;DR – This is a film that has one of the most ridiculous casts I have seen in a long time, but it just does not come together in end.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
It is rare that a film comes along with a cast just as ludicrous as this, with a premise as strong as this, indeed you should see it just to watch Viola Davis own every scene she is in. Add to this, we have a heist film, and ensemble heist films are some of my favourite films. Now,this should be an instant win for me, but while I think it is a good film, I am not sure it was a great one because it is held back but a couple of things.
Soto set the scene, we open in as a heist has gone very wrong, as the police get called and fire at the escaping truck. As Florek Gunner (Jon Bernthal) bleeds out in the back, they make the change to the new truck and everything is okay until the leader of the group Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) opens up the garage only to find it surrounded by police that open fire and destroy the van killing Gunner, Rawlings, Carlos Perelli (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Jimmy Nunn (Coburn Goss) instantly as well as incinerating all the money they stole. Well, that is a problem because they stole from Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) a local crime boss who was using the money to finance his political run against Jack Mulligan (ColinFarrell) of the Mulligan family who have run the district for three generations. Well Jamal and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) are not people to cross and so they give Harry’s wife Veronica (Viola Davis) an ultimatum, she has one month to sell everything and pay them back, or else. So what do you do when your husband is dead and his past demons come back to haunt you, well you gather up the other wives now widows Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and you join together to run Harry’s last heist, so you can pay back the mob and start a new life for themselves …if they can pull it off.
Now without a doubt, this film has a ridiculous cast, and we see that because you have talent like Jacki Weaver just here in a small role and she is amazing. Now, of course, Viola Davis owns every scene she is in because no one does the barely contained rage behind a wall of calm with such excellence. Every scene is made better with Viola being in it and there are also all these little touches that help sell the character. Like for example where ever she goes, she has her dog with her, which tells you a lot about what she treasures, and how unprepared she is for this, but it also allows Viola change up the scenes from how they usually would be. It is also great that the other women in the team Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki,and Cynthia Erivo hold their own, making it a true ensemble film. Also mad respects to Daniel Kaluuya for his performance here as he had to get to a very specific place and stay there. In the film,he plays the brother who is not really all that fussed with the political campaign but is more interested in expanding his gang’s control of the region.So he is this guy who will read a book, listen to some beatbox, and then waste some guys where they stand, and be completely compelling all of the time.
Where the film does not quite work is in the story, which really feels like it is trying to do too much and does not have the space to pull it all off. It is a heist film, it is a film on the shifting political landscape of Chicago, it is a film on the implications of race and sex, the women having to deal with the crap their husbands left for them to deal with and an election race. All of this means that we don’t get all that much time to actually focus on the preparation of the heist. This leads to some real issues where the film drags for long portions and the feels rushed in others, for example, it ends suddenly and a bit anticlimactically. There was also some sex and nudity that I don’t think needed to be there from a story perspective, or at least was no contextualised well enough. Added to this, I think the film over hints at some of its big reveals, and indeed you can probably pick some of the reveals out just from the casting. Now while these are problems, they don’t ruin the film, but they do hold it back, and there is a stark contrast between some of the plodding narrative and the moments of cinematic brilliance that is the opening car chase, or indeed the final heist.
In the end, do we recommend Widows? Yes,sort of, mostly. Look this is a film that if you love an amazing cast and acting than you should go see it in a heartbeat. However, if you are the fan of the heist aspects of heist films, or someone who does not like really slow builds, then this might not be the film for you.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,he’ll be talking about International Relations,or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Widows
Directed by – Steve McQueen
Screenplay by – Gillian Flynn &Steve McQueen
Based on – Widows by Lynda La Plante
Music by – Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by – Sean Bobbitt
Edited by – Joe Walker
Starring – Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Garret Dillahunt, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, Coburn Goss, Molly Kunz, Lukas Haas, Matt Walsh & Olivia
Rating – Australia: MA15+;Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R