Widows: Film Review

I’m a big fan of Steve McQueen‘s previous films – like Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave – so I was excited to see him take on more mainstream, blockbuster fare, and the incredible cast he recruited for Widows was another big plus. Thankfully, Widows is just what I hoped it would be – a thrilling heist drama.

Viola Davis stars as Veronica Rawlins, the wife of career criminal Harry (Liam Neeson). One day, Harry and his team are killed while attempting to steal money from wannabe politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), who begins threatening Veronica for the cash. Veronica finds plans for the team’s next robbery and recruits the widows of Harry’s crew – Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) – to help her pull it off. They need a driver, so they bring in Linda’s babysitter Belle (Cynthia Erivo).

These four women don’t get as much screen time as I expected they would. They are the centre of the plot, they are the ones planning the heist and pushing the story forward, but they have to share the screen with so many other characters, such as Colin Farrell as Jack Mulligan, Jamal’s political rival, Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme, Jamal’s brother and enforcer, and Robert Duvall as Tom, Jack’s dad. The ensemble McQueen has recruited is incredible but almost an embarrassment of riches – there are too many characters and plots to cover – and I would have preferred it to have been more streamlined to focus on the women more – I wanted more background about each of them (especially Belle and Linda), more about them planning the heist and more about them actually pulling it off. Basically, I just wanted more of these women.

The actual heist sequence is fantastic, gripping, edge of your seat stuff but that lasts about 15 minutes out of the whole 130 minute running time. The rest of the plot is just introducing everybody and their stories and getting everything in line for the heist – which was fine and I enjoyed watching it and there were plenty of developments and a twist (which I predicted) to keep me entertained, but it needed a slightly quicker pace. It took a while to get going.

The main four women were so, so good – Davis is reliably amazing in everything but it was cool to see her playing someone so physically tough (her arms were unreal, like Erivo’s) and it was refreshing to see Rodriguez play someone vulnerable compared to her usual kickass characters. I’m a huge fan of Debicki’s and she continued to surprise me, and her character goes on the biggest journey. I also wanted so much more Erivo – she is hardly in it and that’s a shame. I also want to give shoutouts to Kaluuya for playing an awful, creepy human being, and Carrie Coon, who wasn’t in it anywhere near enough.

So it sounds like I didn’t like it much at all, but I really did. It’s just that my expectations were super high thanks to everybody raving about it during the London Film Festival and it wasn’t as perfect as it had been made out to be. It’s definitely worth a watch though – the action is satisfying, there are some shocking and gripping moments and I loved seeing such an ensemble in one film.

In cinemas Tuesday 6th November 

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