My Rating ***
Genre – Crime Thriller
Run Time – 2 Hr 10 Min
Certificate – 18
Country – USA.
BAFTA – 1 nomination
Awards – 14 Wins & 71 Nominations
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So Widows based on the British TV series of the same name from way back and from black director Steve McQueen’s, his first film for five years since the Oscar winning bore 12-years a Slave, this one also an intended Oscar runner. It was cast to appeal to all sections of the more diverse Academy voters these days but they didn’t bite and so no nominations. I think that may have knocked back his ego some. Film critics enjoyed it although audiences did not come out in their droves for what is a solid heist drama, its $42 million budget turning over $76 million.
It’s also notable for a screen kiss between hunky Liam Neeson and black actress Viola Davis, Liam, now famously admitting he once wanted to ‘cosh a black man’ back in the day over anger issues. Viola seemed to enjoy his tender side. That interracial chemistry didn’t work though and clearly hurt the films gross.
Viola Davis … Veronica
Liam Neeson … Harry Rawlings
Jon Bernthal … Florek
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo … Carlos
Coburn Goss … Jimmy Nunn
Michelle Rodriguez … Linda
Daniel Kaluya … Joel Manning
Garrel Dillahunt … Bash
Cynthia Erivo …Belle
Jackie Weaver ….Agnieszka
Lukas Hass … David
Kevin J’Conner … as Bobby Walsh
Alejandro Verdin … Xavy
Bailey Rhyse Walters … Gracie
Elizabeth Debicki … Alice
Carrie Coon … Amanda
Robert Duvall … Tom Mulligan
Colin Farrell … Jack Mulligan
Molly Kunz … Siobhan
James Vincent Meredith … John / Mulligan Man
Brian Tyree Henry … Jamal Manning
Chicago career criminal Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) is blown up in his getaway van alongside his fellow lags during a botched robbery. Greif stricken wife Veronica (Viola Davis) is left to pick up the pieces and soon threatened by ruthless crime boss right hand man Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) and his right hand man and brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya), whom Harry and his crew stole $2 million from. Jamal needs the cash to finance his electoral campaign for a councilor of a Chicago South Side ward, where he is running against Jack Mulligan (Collin Farrell), the next-in-line of a Irish American political dynasty who have dominated the district over the decades.
Veronica’s only hope of paying back the money is Harry’s notebook, which details a plan for a heist of $5 million cash, the gang’s posthumous next job. She has no choice but to try and carry out the plan to repay her debt, recruiting two of the other widows from the botched robbery, 6ft 3 Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and struggling single mom Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) to assist her. The fourth widow, Amanda (Carrie Coon), is reticent as she has a young baby and so doesn’t meet them. Veronica makes it quite clear to the women that Jamal will also come after them if she can’t make the two million.
Alice is tasked to buy the getaway car and guns, while Linda is assigned with deciphering the blueprints on where exactly the job and building is. Alice just so happens to be dating a sugar daddy to get money and he is a real estate executive who knows all about blueprints but not their risky plan. It turns out the money is a safe in Jack Mulligan’s home and so how did it get there?
The pressure is ramped up on the girls when Veronica’s diver is murdered by Manning’s thugs and so they recruit an outsider to be the new driver, feisty Belle (Cynthia Erivo), who is well up for it and they will split the other three million four ways now. But twists come thick and fast as the heist runs out of control…
Although a strong and deliberate feminist bent here the films is pretty solid and entertaining for a bloke like me. There are a few twists that seem obvious after a while to keep the movie interesting but McQueen’s obfuscating style masks them for a while. One or two shock moments keep it gritty but less heist movie and more about emancipation of the female species as the two hours begins to drag. There is zero chemistry between the two unlikable leads Neeson and Viola Davis in the movie and it takes her 100 minutes to smile. These two people types would not be together in real life and feels forced in the casting but clearly McQueen’s point of the movie.
It’s a slow burner after the dramatic opening sequence and the skyscraper that is Elizabeth Debicki another strange fit in the movie. I’m not quite sure why McQueen cast her in his eclectic cast. Enjoyed the film but not as good as you think it was going to be and hyped up as. It’s a little bit silly in places and crass in others but for its edgy casting the tough females message it will appeal to some.
Imdb.com – 7.0/10.0 (53,245votes)
Rottentomatos.com –91 % critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 84% critic’s approval