Crime Drama

Review: ‘Widows’ is More Than Just a Standout Heist Film

November 15, 2018Sherry Li

Widows, from director Steve McQueen, puts together a captivating script, co-written by McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, and a fantastic cast to pull off a pressure-filled crime-drama that goes beyond just a simple heist.

After a job gone bad, Henry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and three of his men leave behind a debt that their widows are forced to pay back. Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) rounds up the other women — Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) — to complete one last heist using Henry's notebook, in which he left detailed instructions on how to carry it out. Meanwhile, as an upcoming election for a ward looms, Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the next in line for the position in a family who has run the ward for generations, is up against Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), the dangerous man whom Henry crossed and stole from on his last job, and whose brother (Daniel Kaluuya) is hounding down Veronica for his money.

Though the film follows a few storylines — from the women's personal lives, to the political dramas, to the crimes and the heist — they all eventually intersect. The first half of the movie moves slowly as all the pieces come together, but once it picks up, Widows doesn't let it slow down. There are plenty of twists that follow that keep things exciting, but while each plot twist is fun, none of them are particularly unforeseen or original. However, one thing that the film does do an incredible job of is fleshing out its characters, particularly the women, who are complex characters with clear motivations clear, and the complexities of those struggles between them, which are compounded with the powerful performances from each of the movie's star-studded cast.

The film, which may at first glance look like just a female-led heist flick, covers a lot more than that, however. The writing of each of the women shows how layered each character is. Veronica, who turns a blind eye to her husband's criminal history when with him, is no saint either, and we are shown all sides of her, from her most vulnerable moments to some of her most cruel. However, because of the amount of time spent on developing the four women's stories, the movie's ending doesn't quite manage to wrap up their story arcs with a satisfying conclusion, and almost seemed to fizzle out a little too soon.

Overall, Widows proves that it is capable of being a standout heist film, but it certainly lacks the complexity and intrigue of a true thriller in its overarching plot. The result touches on many themes — from the complexities of interracial dating, to feminism, to grief and to healing — that give it a depth that the main storylines don't quite pull off. Though some of its plot points may feel a little tired, Widows never plays too quickly into audience expectations while still proving that it can draw the audience in and show them a good time regardless.

Widows releases November 16, 2018 from Twentieth Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content/nudity. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 9 min.

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