Stripped down to bare essentials, Widows is an action movie in which three women, whose husbands died at the hands of police during a botched robbery, join forces to avenge themselves by stealing $5 million. The women have no zero experience, but each has a compelling motivation: survival. Says its leading character, played to the hilt by Viola Davis, “Our lives are in danger. Our husbands aren’t coming back. We’re on our own.”
Soon, Veronica and her scared little fluff-ball dog get menacing, unnerving visits and ultimatums from the crime kingpin Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry). Veronica’s got exactly one month to pay him back. Or else, face the wrath of Jamal’s brother, the unhinged traveling executioner Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya, diabolically scary). So far, so routine, right? Then, Veronica conveniently finds among Harry’s belongings not only nasty, compromising photos of a local political bigwig but also a “how-to” notebook for staging a big robbery. Sheer nonsense, those plot contrivances, but then Widows is full of silly, lazy stuff, including a meant-to-be-shocking plot reveal so blatantly obvious that any thriller fan should be able to spot it way less than 10 minutes into the action.
McQueen and Co. have bigger ideas in mind than just a straight-up thriller, of course. Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell, playing a powerful politician father and alderman son, respectively, are very good in their subplot involving crooked, racist, opportunistic Chicago public policy, and the movie has much to say about the grim, widening imbalances between the haves and have-nots in contemporary America. And, as for sexism, watch for the scenes with Lukas Haas as a deep-pocketed admirer of Debicki’s charms, providing moments that vibrate with tension and inequality.
Viola Davis, in full-on powerhouse mode, plows right through the movie's absurdities and rough patches.
Yet Davis, in full-on powerhouse mode, plows right through the movie's absurdities and rough patches—rank amateurs pulling off a multimillion heist, seriously?—treating the whole affair with unsentimental sadness and toughness. Even the way she holds her little dog, a kind of substitute for her dead son as she lives in flashbacks with the lost Neeson, is an acting lesson in itself. With Widows, the little things make the biggest impact.
- Viola Davis thrills in this taut ride that doesn't stick to genre convention
- Try not to focus too much on the logic leaps