Sunday, October 21, 2018

Movie Review: "Widows" (2018)

Director: Steve McQueen
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

When her husband Harry is killed in a robbery gone wrong, Veronica Rawlings is forced into committing a crime to get back the $2 million her husband stole from a dangerous politician/gangster during their fatal botched heist.

Widows 2018 movie still Viola Davis Colin Farrell
"This is not your world." (Image Source)
There's no reason why ladies can't be heisters, too, so why has it taken so long to give them a good and proper vehicle like "Widows"?...okay, don't count "Ocean's 8" from earlier this year, but still, it's 2018, damn it! We should have dozens of these movies by now. This film is directed by Steve McQueen, who has directed films like "Shame," "Hunger," and the Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave." McQueen also helped write the screenplay along with acclaimed writer Gillian Flynn, and it is adapted from the British miniseries of the same name by Lynda La Plante. When career criminal Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and his team steal $2 million from a local politician and crime boss named Jamal Manning (Brain Tyree Henry), they are all killed and get burned up with the money when their van explodes in a violent shootout with local Chicago police officers. Now, Manning wants his money back, and he believes that debt falls to Harry's widow Veronica (Viola Davis). Harry has left Veronica with little means to pay Manning back. When Jamal and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) come collecting, Veronica must gather the other widows of the men killed in the botched heist, Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Amanda (Carrie Coon), to do the last job Harry had in his notebook, which he left for her to find. This final task will net them enough money to pay off Manning and allow them to start new lives for themselves.
Widows 2018 movie still Viola Davis Daniel Kaluuya Brian Tyree Henry
"You need to leave this alone." (Image Source)
Heist movies range from being light and fun like "Sugar & Spice" and "A Fish Called Wanda," to much more dramatic crime thrillers such as "Set it Off" and "Heat." "Widows" is definitely in the latter category. Four women are placed in a tough situation, but they have no criminal skills, no felonious experience outside of their proxy to their husbands, and no clue what they are doing, but still must pull off this heist to save their skins. Like most heist films, "Widows" shows the gathering of these women together as they each give information about their lives separately from their husbands and within their marriage. They must gather intelligence about the job, plan the heist, and eventually, execute their plan. It is in these final two portions where "Widows" excels. It is taut, tense and compelling. It is sharp and brutal. This movie is as good as it is because of the brilliant performances from those involved. Viola Davis is an absolute marvel. She switches between being raw and vulnerable and tough-as-nails with ease. Elizabeth Debicki continues to impress us. Daniel Kaluuya is violent, intense, and insane. Robert Duvall plays an old racist...what a surprise! Duvall has played this role before, and it is a role he executes well (life imitating art or art imitating life?). Brian Tyree Henry is shockingly charismatic but is very intimidating. Colin Farrell smoothly and successfully walks a fine line between being a caring politician and a massive slimeball. The story is engaging and has a few twists and turns to keep the audience interested from start to finish. That being said, it does play out a relatively basic story and can be a bit contrived. It doesn't do that much to distinguish itself from other crime thrillers and heist films and plays it a little safe at times.
Widows 2018 movie still Viola Davis Michelle Rodriguez Cynthia Erivo Elizabeth Debicki
"We have a lot of work to do. Crying isn't on that list." (Image Source)
"Widows" has a palpable excitement and a hefty set of thoughts on sexism, corruption, grief, politics, passion, and violence. The tension really ramps up in the last half hour. It's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more. Look for Viola Davis and Daniel Kaluuya to get nominated for Oscars next year for their performances here. All in all, this is a great heist film with gorgeous cinematography and excellent direction (except for one scene involving the outside of a car, which BigJ hated. I was contractually obligated to include this sentence, even though I thought that shot was marvelous).

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.1/10
RT Rating: ~95%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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