It might be difficult to come out with a heist film that hasn’t been done before. But why do you going inside them? To see something thrilling to happen and witness our heroes get out clean and safe. Not gonna say that it happens in Steve McQueen’s Widows, but here’s a movie with a plan to keep us engaged to what’s being unfolded.
What’s the Story: Based on the 1983 British miniseries, after a heist goes wrong leaving a group of robbers dead after stealing $2 million, the widows of the husbands, Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo), must plan to construct to finish the job even when they don’t know each other and have nothing in common.
Widows was easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year for many reasons. And for good reasons. Not only do you look at this incredible ensemble lineup, but it’s a heist drama with director Steve McQueen. His long-awaited follow-up to his Best Picture-winning film 12 Years a Slave has finally come about, and him co-writing the script with Gillian Flynn, author/screenwriter of Gone Girl, this was already setting up for an excellent time. Yet, I didn’t wind up loving Widows like many are, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t like it either; it’s alright, as of right now.
First talking about the cast, because how can you not? All of them are gave solid performances that don’t come off as uninteresting. Aside from the leading ladies, you also have Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. Almost nearly everyone got their moment to shine, even with the limited screen time some have. The three that stood out in my mind where Davis, Debicki and Kaluuya.
Davis as the leader never puts in a bad performance since we eventually feel for her life when put together this heist. Debicki is one of those actresses that I hope makes a breakthrough in the film because her character Alice is the most flawed out of the group. And then there’s Kaluuya, who pretty much does a 180 in terms of being a likable character in Get Out, to a straight-up menacing mob enforcer in here. Whenever he’s onscreen, you just know it’s gonna be on a threat level of scared.
If you’re going in thinking the heist is gonna be the big setup, it takes a while to get there. Widows does take the time to have our characters plan what needs to happen to make it work. The heist itself isn’t exactly big as so it seemed like a pretty simple job to accomplish. To be fair, the heist in here is better than the one in Ocean’s 8. This, I feel, will be mixed when people see it. Thought this wasn’t about the heist; it’s mainly about these women relying on their late husbands to get the job done. Is it intense? Yes, but it took me a step back to realize there isn’t a lot of action to be found, as expected. Although, there were certain moments that were easily thrilling, including the opening sequence that already locked me where to we are introduced to the characters.
I wouldn’t go as far to say McQueen’s direction is one of the best of the year, but some of his choices in helming certain scenes felt different than usual. There are some uncut takes focusing on conversation and then the action where it’s exciting. One of which is a conversation between Farrell and his young campaign manager, and it’s shot outside of the car and not inside. Interesting, yet different.
It goes into dirty politicians in Chicago where you just know it doesn’t seem right. Even though it spends a little more time on that, it was intriguing when it’s between Henry’s Jamel Manning and Farrell’s Jack Mulligan, two rival candidates.
Is the story believable? I say it is, but it was different from what I thought it was initially gonna be. From the look at the marketing, it looked like a combination of Heat and Set It Off, and it’s kinda like that. We do eventually care about most of the characters involved for better or worse. What we have are a group of women who’ve never done anything like this before with little experience. But I bought into the fact just by knowing what they need to be planned to make sure they’re prepared and no one gets hurt.
McQueen and Flynn’s screenplay went for that female empowerment that flows through to pull the heist off, which was appreciated. We have our twists and turns that’s hard to question if it was predictable or not. Personally, I feel like the script could’ve been a bit stronger with how to balance its political and main heist part of the story.
Really had to think about this one after it was over since I needed to go over everything that happened and try to figure out how it linked together. I really wanted to love Widows, but it’s just fine. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna be a major contender for the Oscars when not a lot of people are paying attention to this. Not to say that this should be called “Oscar-bait”, but maybe I’m getting seeing this was a different perspective.
Widows build upon a perfect ensemble and McQueen’s style of direction that’s pretty memorable, but it felt slow and not as intense as expected for what’s still a solid heist drama.