It’s a heist film that stole nearly 2 and a half hours of my time!
BQB here with a review of “Widows.”
When I saw ads for a film about the wives of dead criminals who get together to pull of a heist of their own, I thought that idea seemed like a cool idea for a movie.
Problem is, I went in expecting a tight action movie and got something different altogether. Frankly, it’s less about the heist and more of a study and meditation on life in inner city Chicago, how a corrupt system keeps people down and out, forced into a life of unhappiness and people can only break out of it if they lie, cheat, steal or you know, commit a massive and unlikely to succeed heist.
At the outset, the movie has a great pedigree. Gillian Flynn of “Gone Girl” fame co-wrote the script with the flick’s director, Steve McQueen of “12 Years a Slave” fame.
The cast includes Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Michele Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, and well, more stars than I can mention and the surprise is somehow all these big names were talked into sharing the limelight. It’s an ensemble cast where no one really gets a lot of time in the sun but rather, each is a cog in the machine, doing their part as you wait to see what the final output will be.
Viola Davis leads the squad of women who need to pull off a robbery in order to appease the gangster their late husbands stole from. Along the way, they’ll have to face their own demons.
Veronica (Viola) is a teacher who always kept her nose clean and had lied to herself, telling herself her husband wasn’t a thief but some kind of businessman though she always knew the truth and she clearly despises the world of hoodlums and losers she will have to wade into.
Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) seeks the independence of owning her own clothing store, though her husband had racked up so much gambling debt that she loses it. She wants it back.
Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) has grown use to a life of being beaten by her ex-husband, having convinced herself that attaching herself to a rich man like a barnacle is the only way to survive, but hopes the robbery can break her out of this life.
Besides those three, there are multiple sub-plots and characters, all who intersect, Colin Farrell as a third generation Chicago politician forced into a life he doesn’t want by his father, Duvall, and being challenged for his seat on the city council by Brian Henry, the gangster the babes owe money to who is looking to move out of the world of underworld crime to the world of political white collar crime, strangely a step up.
It’s pretentious. Full of itself. It has a lot of twists for the sake of twists. There are twists where you are like “Holy shit I didn’t see that one coming!” followed by “Hey wait a minute, this twist doesn’t make sense.”
Gillian Flynn built her name on the super-twisty “Gone Girl” but I hope she doesn’t fall into the Shamalan trap of trying to build a twisty career. Hitchcock might have been able to keep the twists going forever, but few can and sometimes it is necessary to move on and seek a non-twisty career.
It’s good. It’s worth your time though I think a half-hour to 45 minutes could have been chopped off without missing much. The heist is cool but they do make you wait and wait and wait for it.
If you came for a tight, solid action flick, you will be disappointed. If you wanted to learn how the system sucks and how it sucks people in and leaves them with no choice but to do bad shit to get by, you came to the right place.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Skip the theater and rent it. You’ll need your couch to be comfy on this long time commitment.