Simple Review- Criminally wasted cast
There are times when a movie sneaks up on you and you watch the trailer with a surprised excitement. Widows is one such film. I had not heard of this movie until I watched the trailer and I was hooked immediately. How can a film directed by an Oscar winner with a cast of phenomenal actors possibly disappoint? So naturally, with Widows being released this weekend I instantly knew which film I would review! So, you may ask, did Widows steal my affection or simply pick my pocket causing me to have to call a customer service line at the bank to cancel all of my cards wasting my time and causing my blood pressure to boil? (I know you can relate!) The only way to find out is to join me on this caper and hope we get to the review before the authorities catch us!
Widows offers a nice turn on the usual caper movie plot. The movie tells the story of four women who are forced to plan a robbery to pay back the criminal that their now deceased husbands robbed. Forced to work together, these women deal not only with the robbery but the aftershocks their dead husbands left in their wake. Director Steve McQueen mixes in political corruption, racial tensions, and double-crosses into the story to give us a much broader view of the world these characters live in. While this does add more to the usual caper type movie, in a strange way it doesn’t add to the movie overall. Instead, it leads to various conveniences to tie things together and a plot twist that, for me, hurt the movie more than add a shock value. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, before we unmask the flaws in Widows we need to shine a police spotlight on the positives.
The most obvious positive Widows has to offer is the amazing cast! Viola Davis is perfectly cast as Veronica, whose husband Harry(Liam Neeson), was the leader of the criminal team that started all of this trouble. Viola does an amazing job giving Veronica the outer strength to lead the team of women that hides the internal suffering from losing her much-loved husband, as well as her son years earlier. She simply shines in this movie and I could see this leading to award nominations. The surprise to me was Elizabeth Debiki as Alice, the abused wife of one of the criminals, that has the clearest character arc. Elizabeth conveys Alice’s growth from a timid woman that is the brunt of abuse to a woman with confidence and strength to stand up for herself. Michelle Rodriguez shows more vulnerability as Linda than her usual tough as nails characters from other movies. The film does play on her being known for playing tough women in a funny way as she trains for the heist. Without giving it away, she isn’t as skilled as you are used to seeing her in movies. The other cast member that stood out was Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme the main bad guys’ enforcer. While the role is one note, Daniel does add enough danger and fun to the character to make it memorable. As a whole, the cast does an excellent job and the movie is well acted. There are some negatives I will get to later in the review. (Tease)
McQueen is an Oscar-winning director and that is obvious as you watch the film. He does an excellent job with the camera placement as he puts you right in the middle of the action as if you are in the scene yourself. The film opens with a great mixing of the criminals’ disastrous last job with quiet moments between the men and their wives before the robbery that lets us into why the women loved their husbands as well as their family life. In case you have not figured it out from my previous reviews, I love when a movie uses visual storytelling to reveal characters and plot as opposed to exposition heavy scripts which is why I enjoyed the opening scenes. It allows us to see the characters in their reality and makes the trouble the men left for their wives to deal with more tragic. There is another great use of the camera as it is mounted on the hood of a limo as a politician leaves a speech in a poor neighborhood to his home in the wealthy side of town that brilliantly shows the change in the homes as we ride to the mansion. This is showing us what we need to know instead of just telling us and moving on. McQueen is at his best when he lets the movie tell the story visually as it adds more weight to what the main characters are having to struggle with.
As much as I would love to tell you, my reliable reader, that this movie rises above the usual flaws, I would be fibbing if I did and you know I could never be dishonest with you. I care too much about this damn relationship to throw it away on lies! Having reminded you of that, lets chase down the negatives Widows delivers.
As great as the cast is, there are a ton of wasted characters in this film. Cynthia Erivo was a sensation in Bad Times at the El Royal, but here she is a one-note character that is just there because the team of women needed a driver. Robert Duval is wasted as the stereotypical rich, white, corrupt, racist politician. It was like a cartoon version of a politician. Colin Farrell does a good job as Duval’s politician son, but his character doesn’t have much of an arc in the story. I will say it was cool how his desire to get out of the political life mirrored the main criminal, Brian Tyree Henry as Jamal Manning, who wants to get out of the criminal life. Even with that, there never seems to be a good resolution of their story thread. There are characters in this movie that serve no other purpose than to give the main characters the information they need. I understand that is common in these type of movies, but these characters are deemed important only to be thrown away quickly. Ohhh and the big twist absolutely hurts this movie by making one question why a character would do that when they have been used to invest you in the hurt other characters feel. It only served to frustrate me from the reveal on through the rest of the movie.
The other major negative in the film is, while it was an excellent choice to delve into more than just the caper, there are plot threads that never seemed to be resolved, or are resolved by a throwaway line of dialogue. The political race is set up as such a major part of the movie, only to be quickly resolved by a radio broadcast that just removes any weight that plot had in the film. Why build it up to end like that? The same can be said with a relationship between one of the main characters and a man she meets as part of her “job”. It is built up like a new chance for her in life, only to be thrown away after he conveniently has the knowledge the team of women needs to commit the robbery. There is a lack of urgency toward the robbery the women need to commit, as well, that gives it very little tension. Yes we know that the women, especially Veronica, are in danger and characters are killed or tortured, but instead of the film pushing us to this big moment in the women’s lives, it gives us some tension then gets bogged down in other plots. By the time they actually commit the crime, you will go”oh yeah they need to rob this place I forgot.” I know the film is trying to tell a bigger story, but it is handled so stereotypically or things are just resolved so poorly that it is very distracting as a viewer. And that damn twist!!!! UGH!!
We have come to the time to split the loot of this review and remember to not make any big purchases to draw attention to ourselves. Overall, Widows is a good movie that never does the acting by this incredible cast justice. It never rises to the levels it sets up early in the film which is a shame because there were some very interesting directions this movie could have gone. My recommendation is to check this one out at home through whatever way you kids watch movies at home nowadays.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below. Please like, follow and share my madness so I can be encouraged to continue this venture!
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho