You can only push a good woman so far…
Director Steve McQueen returns with Widows which is a gloriously slick heist flick that puts the ladies in the driver seats and gives us the layered storytelling that we expect from this filmmaker wrapped in a high gloss popcorn flick finish.
Veronica (Viola Davis) lives an idyllic life in a luxury condo with Rawlins (Liam Neeson). However that comfortable existence was paid for by a life of crime and when a job goes wrong leaving Rawlins and his crew dead, Veronica’s life goes to shambles. To make everything go from bad to worse, she gets paid a visit from a local crime lord who now determines that Rawlins and his two million dollar debt is now on Veronica’s shoulders. She’s only got one out, round up the wives of her husband’s old crew to pull off one last job in order to get her out from underneath this mess and start a new life.
This is high octane cinema in its purest form as Widows is the violent marriage of style and substance led with such no nonsense energy that you just can’t look away from anything that is happening on the screen.
Steve McQueen splashes so much gritty style on to the screen here in Widows and it’s an embarrassment of riches throughout. The movie looks slick, capturing a vibe somewhere between Michael Mann’s Heat and All The President’s Men. It takes a special kind of talent to give popcorn some genuine gravitas and he does that here with plenty to spare. This is easily McQueen’s best film today and ironically his most accessible which says something to his unmatched talent as a filmmaker. Everything he does here is both sharp and effortless all at the same time which simply proves that as a story teller he can do whatever he goddamn well pleases to do. He’s a British storyteller diving into the ugly side of the American dream and doing it with fervour reminding us all that everything has a price and that in a world dominated by men, the last thing you want to do get a smart woman into a situation where she doesn’t have a damn thing to lose.
The script adapted by Gillian Flynn is a smart an energetic affair and captures not only the necessary essence of desperation and panic in the story but also the right dash of anger and simply not giving a fuck anymore. It may not look like it on the outside, but this is pure feminist cinema and the embodiment of the #metoo movement as we see strong women who are simply sick and tired of getting stepped all over by their male counterparts. It’s a social commentary but with cops and robbers and shoot outs and it all plays so deliciously well.
With Widows we finally get the badass role that the universe has been screaming for Viola Davis to play. As Veronica we see a smart but broken woman faced with the cold realities of a situation she feels like she is partially to blame for. She didn’t get her man killed, but she didn’t pay attention to anything that was going on around her either while wrapped up in the grief of an earlier tragedy in their lives. By hook or by crook she finds a way to push back and make sure that she’s taken care of, something she always relied on men to do for her in her life. Elizabeth Debicki matches her every step of the way with Michelle Rodriguez and the electric Cynthia Erivo looking to get there’s after years of living in a system that just took from them without repercussion. Colin Farrell plays the other side of the coin with aplomb as politician looking to shake the decades old stench of nepotism and corruption only to look for his own brand of greed while the likes of Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry add some genuine menace to the affair in this ensemble cast that is so loaded from top to bottom it would just take too long to list how many people are actually in this movie…did I even mention Liam Neeson?!?
Make no mistake, this film is a stylish dash of smart social commentary wrapped in the simple yet classic trappings of heist movie which makes Widows a must see affair. It’s both emotionally relevant and compelling while still being as entertaining as all hell.