WIDOWS -- Grade A-
Updated: Dec 12, 2018
Based on a British TV series written by one of the best female mystery writers ever, this enjoyable crime drama stars a great female-led cast, anchored by the great Viola Davis, and the message that you got to take of yourself, cause men are not to be trusted. (Amen.)
Davis stars as Veronica Rawlings, the wife of Harry (Liam Neeson), a rich and powerful Chicago thief whose tight-knew crew perishes after an exciting opening chase scene. Unfortunately, the guy he robbed -- a crime boss (Atlanta's Brian Tyree Henry) was using the $2 million to finance a run for office against the well-connected incumbent (Colin Farrell) -- and he wants his money back. So he threatens her and HER DOG. Yeah, no, dude.
Rawlings lives high on the hog, but Harry left everything in his name -- speaking of dogs... But he did leave her the detailed plan to his next heist, so she recruits the titular widows of her husband's team, winningly played by Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki, to help her pull it off. Unfortunately, the second act drags, with way too much time devoted to the bad guys in the election subplot, and not nearly enough to the core ensemble of ladies, which expands to include Cynthia Erivo as a tough, resourceful mom who joins the team.
There's blessedly little, if any, personal chit-chat between the ladies -- no "get to know you" sleepovers (tho there is one short, terse scene in a sauna.) These women are tough, and they're there to do a job. And the prep and robbery scenes are definitely the best thing in the film, just wish there were more of them.
The cast is absolutely first-rate and jam-packed with talent from top to bottom -- including Oscar faves like Robert Duvall and Jacki Weaver, plus Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Jon Bernthal, Jon Michael Hill, Garrett Dillahunt and Carrie Coon. And there are a couple of nice twists -- though you can probably see 'em coming a mile away.
Steve McQueen, the highly-regarded director of the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, turns out a stylish, solid film, which he co-wrote with Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame. Originally, #Widows was a 1983 six-part BBC series written by Lynda LaPlante -- the award-winning British mystery writer who penned the great female cop show, Prime Suspect. McQueen just got caught trying to cram too much of her top-notch material into a feature -- and chose to focus too much on the guys instead of the girls. Still, the fact that these women turn out to be strong, smart, capable professionals, while their men were, for the most part, abusive louts, imparts enough of a #feminist message to recommend.
Femme Critic Score:
Female Leads: Four great ones, plus a couple of supporting
Female Director: No
Female Writer: Gillian Flynn, based on Lynda LaPlante
Passes the Bechdel Test: Most definitely