Intense, suspenseful, and twisty. These are the first words that come to my mind when thinking about 20th Century Fox’s Widows. It will grab you by the collar and choke you, occasionally letting up on the grip to keep you breathing just enough.
Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) stars as Veronica, a woman still grieving the death of her teenage son when her husband (Liam Nielsen) dies on a job. He leaves her nothing but a key to a lockbox containing a notebook of his criminal activities, which contains an unfinished job worth $5 million. When one of her husband’s hits threatens her life if she doesn’t repay him, she tracks down the other widowed wives from her husband’s botched job to pull off this unfinished scheme and secure their future.
Director/Writer Steve McQueen takes what is otherwise a predictable plot and adds many unexpected twists. He keeps audiences on the edge of their seats and often startles and shocks the viewer. But fans of “12 Years a Slave” should note that this is a very different film that is equal parts thriller and drama.
Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo round out the cast of widows on a mission to secure their futures. Erivo recently starred in Bad Times at the El Royale where she gave an incredibly memorable performance. She proves herself equally skilled in this film and holds her own as a relative unknown in a cast of recognizable faces.
The film gets political by nature of a character played by Colin Farrell, a career politician in an election year who promises one thing to Chicagoans, but really means another. As you digest all of the content, the film almost becomes a mosaic of hot button issues thrown together. This includes women’s rights, gun reform, police brutality, sex trafficking, wage gap, and institutionalized racism. For this reason, I believe Widows is going to resonate with a lot of viewers and will become an important film for this generation.
But overall, Widows has too much going on to form a cohesive narrative. It allows dust to settle on almost every plot twist with uneven pacing and suffers from too much exposition to establish every character. The one character who comes with almost no background information is the twisted and demented Jatemme played by Daniel Kaluuya (Marvel’s Black Panther), who is so off the walls crazy that he feels like a Quentin Tarantino intrusion. The film makes a few attempts at dark humor, almost all of which feel demented and out of place.
I usually like this kind of film, but Widows did not sit well with me. It takes its task very seriously, never attempting the fun elements of the best heist movies. With so many tonal shifts and left turns, it creates havoc on the screen and doesn’t bother to clean up its mess, even leaving several subplots unresolved.
I give Widows 2 out of 5 handguns in a plastic “Thank you for shopping” bag.