TL;DR – A film with a great cast, strong banter, engaging action, but the third act does not capitalise on all these.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film.
Black Widow Review –
Back when Spider-Man: Far From Home came out in July 2019, I don’t think anyone knew just how long it would be before we got another Marvel film up on the big screen. Well, just over two years later, it is time to dive back into this world by going back to a time just after Civil War.
So to set the scene, we begin our film in the deep dark days of the far past, the 1990s. In Ohio, we are introduced to a completely average family, normal except for the fact that it is entirely manufactured and the father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) are Russian spies. They are here to steal secrets from SHIELD (well, HYDRA pretending to be SHIELD). One emergency flight to Cuba and the family is split up and forced into the Soviet machine. Years later, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is now on the run after Civil War, and it just so happens to be time for a family reunion.
The first thing that shines in this film is the cast. It has been a long time coming, but Scarlett Johansson should have headlined a Marvel before now because that strength is plain to see. From the moment we see her enter the film playing Ross (William Hurt) for a fool, you realise that Marvel had been wasting the potential for a good spy film for years. They don’t have to prelude with Scarlet, you can just dive into this world, so you are entirely invested even before Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) appears.
From here, we also see strength in the bigger Black Widow family. I am glad that the film took the time to explore the family’s dynamic as spies before they all got split up in the Soviet Union. It gave that little tug that made bringing each of the family back together such a joy. David Harbour and Rachel Weisz have instant chemistry that permeates throughout the film. As well as this, Florence Pugh makes an immediate impact in the movie, and I loved the banter between her and Scarlett.
This is expounded on by some stunning cinematography that makes the most of every scene. It does help the film that it is filmed across the world, to give those Norway and Morocco title cards more weight. It is also not a subtle film at times, which you see as the family escapes America only to drive by a neon flag and people playing baseball. From that strong base, you get some electric action scenes, which I liked more at the start when they were close up and intimate. With respect to the stunt team behind Taskmaster because you feel each and every one of those character changes throughout the film.
Where things just didn’t connect for me was in the structure of the film, which does mean that we will slightly discuss the ending, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. The whole narrative drive of the film is bringing the family back together, which happens during the second act. The moments at the farm are the film at its best, as we see a dysfunctional family trying to work through their trauma. However, to make the ending act work, they need to split the family up again, and the film just losses all of that momentum it built up. It is not to say the ending is bad, it is fine, but you can feel the missed opportunity as they picked bombast over a more intimate conclusion. Also … Budapest … um …
In the end, do we recommend Black Widow? Yes, yes, we would. While it feels like it didn’t quite nail its premise, it is worth watching for the family alone. If you liked Black Widow, I would recommend Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
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 Black Widow
Directed by – Cate Shortland
Story by – Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson
Screenplay by – Eric Pearson
Based on – Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, Don Rico & Don Heck
Music by – Lorne Balfe
Cinematography by – Gabriel Beristain
Edited by – Leigh Folsom Boyd & Matthew Schmidt
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel Studios & Walt Disney Studios
Starring – Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw, Ray Winstone, Liani Samuel, Michelle Lee, Nanna Blondell, Olivier Richters, Jeremy Renner & Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13