The only bad thing about Widows was the three guys sitting behind me shuffling their bags of popcorn after every handful.
Heist movies, they are a tale as old as time. We see them every so often, it’s a fantastic genre of movie. I’ve seen plenty of them in my life and some have even reached the upper echelon of my favorite films. What makes this genre so unique is when a talented filmmaker decides to add a little flavor of their own and tries not to reinvent the wheel, but rather create something we as film lovers have not seen before. Steve McQueen the wonderfully talent director of 12 Years A Slave, Hunger and Shame steps into new territory with Widows and I must say, he knocked it out of the park. He managed to take something I love and breathes new life into it, making for a thrilling, pulse-pounding, an emotionally charged entertaining heist film.
Widows certainly has shades of other great heist films, Point Break, and The Town both come to mind. McQueen takes from those great films and is able to add layers into what can at times, be described as a cut-and-dry genre. Walking out I thought to myself, if you took a blender and added a little Mean Girls, Point Break and The Town and blended them all flawlessly together, the end product would be Widows. I think that’s the highest regard I can give this movie. All three films I love and that’s just what it reminded of. We all know that in these types of movies there are usually men doing bad things for most of the time good reasons. To provide for their families, maybe it’s to start over, begin a new life. But what McQueen manages to do, is peel back the curtain and we examine what happens after a job goes bad. These men have families, they had lives outside the world of crime. So when they die, what happens to the things and the people they leave behind? This is the forefront of Widows, and I really loved this idea, as generic as it may seem, McQueen gets you invested in these women and you find yourself rooting for them the entire way. The reviews were pouring in, and for the most part, it was being met with the highest of praise, but some film reviewers I trust, didn’t see it that way. So I was curious to see which side of the fence I would land on. I can tell you that this is not only one of the best films of the year, but it also happens to be one of my favorites.
Losing a loved one is never easy, in fact, it’s one of the toughest hardships to deal with in life. But what happens when that loved one is dead and they owe 2 million dollars to some crazy, badass, terrifying people. Well, that is the rundown here, Veronica (Viola Davis) owes some bad people a lot of money. Her husband Harry (Liam Neeson) the head of the crew dies and she is left to pay his debt. The rest of his crew Florek (Shane Bernthal), Carlos (Manuel-Garcia Rulfo) and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) all perish with him in a heist gone horribly wrong. All four of these men had wives and a family, so when Veronica gets in contact with the other ladies to tell them that their lives are in danger, they take it upon themselves to pull their late husband’s final job and get out of this mess. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and an outsider Belle (Cynthia Erivo) all decide that in order to protect not only themselves by the one a closest to them, but they must also band together and pull off this heist. On the other end of the spectrum, the ones trying to collect what’s rightfully theirs, we have the worst Manning brothers since Peyton and Eli. Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). Jamal is running for city council and wants to become the first African American in history to win his Ward, while Jatemme serves as his ruthless muscle (more on Kaluuya later). Standing in their way is Jack Mulligan (Colon Ferrel) whose family has been in politics for generations, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. The political aspect of the movie was fine, it hits hard on some important issues and problems that America is dealing with today. But at the heart of Widows is a truly great heist film.
Like most heist films their are certain twists and turns along the way, one in particular that even had me say “NO WAY,” and in a time where you can kind of sense and feel out most movies, that one actually took me by surprise. Widows keeps you on your feet and keep you guessing until the very end. From the opening shot of the film you are invested and kind of all in on what is taking place. The story is great, but what makes Widows truly special are the performances. Viola Davis, as usual, is a juggernaut giving just a phenomenal emotional raw performance. She continues to be one of the best leading actresses Hollywood has to offer. We get to see her in a new light as well, she even had a Sarah Conner and Ripley look going on, rocking a white beater. Widows makes Davis look like a kickass action star. It should come as no shock that she’s fantastic and she does a great job carrying the emotional weight of this film. Elizabeth Debicki I thought was just wonderful and was going toe-to-toe with Davis in some pretty powerful scenes. But the man of the hour, Mr. Get Out himself, Daniel Kaluuya. My god, that man is a freight train from hell. I heard he was terrifying going in and he gave a goosebumps level performance, but you really have to see it, to believe it. He can do so much with his facial expressions. He does just that here because he is a man of very few words, but his actions jump off the screen. You’re on edge because you don’t know what he’s about to do, one moment he’s smiling, the next, you’re dead. It’s a chilling performance and one to remember in 2018. There’s a scene that takes place in a bowling alley and I legit had my hands over my mouth because it was about to hit the floor, he’s that damn good in Widows. His calm demeanor yet his ruthlessness meshed so incredibly well together, I want him for the next James Bond villain. The cast is obviously stacked and full of talent, but one thing was missing. Steve McQueen has worked with Michael Fassbender for every movie, but he sits this one out. The weakest part of Widows, although Liam Neeson is a terrific actor, I couldn’t see him in this role. I dunno, something was off and those scenes where’s he’s acting next to Viola Davis, he’s getting his ass kicked. I think that’s where Fassbender can elevate his game and I think he would have made the movie perfect. But that’s such a small nitpick because Neeson is wonderful, but I thought about that all during the movie.
Overall, Widows is full of powerful performances and a smart clever story. I was entertained the entire time and I was invested in our heroines the whole way through. Come Oscar season this may pop up here and there for certain categories, especially Viola Davis for best actress. If you enjoy heist flicks this will be right up your alley, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s not performing well at the box-office right now, which is crazy to me. Go support this movie, because we need more movies like Widows in our cinemas.
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Widows = 97/100