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May 10, 2019

Widows (2018) --- "Left With Nothing. Capable Of Anything."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
   After an armed robbery attempt ends in an explosive police shootout that leaves four thieves dead, the four surviving widows - Veronica, Linda, Alice, and Belle - have nothing in common except the debt left behind by their husbands. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms in Chicago, the four widows, under the leadership of Veronica (Viola Davis), join forces to pull off the last heist their husbands were planning. Will they succeed in pulling it off? Or will they suffer the same fate as their husbands? Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years a Slave) and co-written alongside Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Utopia), Widows (2019) is a dark, intense, and drama heist film filled with twist and turns will leaving you reeling at the end.

   This is not necessarily my bread and butter kind of film, in fact, if I had know how intense and raw this film was I probably would not have seen it. The only reason I did was that I went in basically knowing next to nothing about film except for what I saw in one of the trailers a few times. And to say that Widows is not your typical heist film would be a huge understatement, this is not a heist film rather it is a character drama that has a heist substory.
   Steve McQueen’s direction is raw and bold with its nod towards racist tension, corrupt politicians, abusive husbands, and dark nature of mob bosses. The story is intense and thick as it tries to cover all its bases and maintain a solid pace which it does manage to achieve. The film not only showcases the struggle and trauma these women must deal but also showcases their resilience and determination to fight for their lives. Sadly though, the film does struggle with its long run time, which made the film drag into long moments of pretty much nothing except reiterating what we already know.
   Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and Film Editor Joe Walker keep McQueen’s signature style of long takes, stillness, and thematic brutality but also inject some of their own styles which adds a new level to the crime thriller genre. As a result, Widows delivers some interesting use of cinematography and the working of camera angles. For example, there is a moment when Jack Mulligan (Colin Firth) is ranting and raving to his PA Siobhan (Molly Kunz) in a short car ride from a housing project to his home. Rather than do the expected, McQueen mounts the camera on to the hood of the car which allows for you to hear Mulligan's rant to Siobhan while only catching occasional glimpses of the chauffeur. However, I was disappointed by the underwhelming music score which is surprising because it was done by the incredible Hans Zimmer. This is a rare moment where we see one of the greats deliver a flop.
   The cast performances were solid and just as raw as the story. Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder, Fences) is tough as nails and yet deeply vulnerable in unguarded moments, while Michelle Rodriguez (Fate of the Furious) is as feisty and hard-edged as always. The most surprising character out of all for women was Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 & 3, Breath). Debicki portrays a character that is, at first, sheltered, inexperienced, and considered to be the weakest member in the group. However, throughout the film, she demonstrates how resourceful she is, even if it means putting herself in uncomfortable situations. Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royal, Chaos Walking) was good as Belle but she was brought very late and therefore underutilized for most of the film. Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis) makes an excellent antagonist, as both the gangster and the aspiring politician Jamal Marshall. He proves to be calculating, seemingly cultured, and yet deeply menacing with an explosive temper just waiting to be let loose. Colin Farrell (Dumbo), Robert Duval (Secondhand Lions), and Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit) provide good secondary characters and give well-rounded performances. However, aside from Erivo, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven), Coburn Goss (Man of Steel, Batman Vs. Superman), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher), and Carrie Coon (Infinity War, The Post) also deserved a little more screen time.

   Overall, Widows (2018) is an intense, raw, and gritty film with realistic characterization and action sequences. Although many may say that this is a heist film, that is a huge understatement. This is in fact, a character drama with heist substory. Like I said before the story is intense and bold, the cinematography is interesting, and the performances are just as raw as the story. However, after watching this film I can clearly state that this is not my bread and butter. The only reason I saw the film was because I went in knowing next to nothing about it except for what I saw in one of the trailers a few times. Although, I know  I won’t ever see this again that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out for yourself. Who knows you may come to appreciate it better than I did.

Final Vote --- 6.5 of 10 stars

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