Widows is a 2018 heist movie directed by Steve McQueen about four women whose significant others are involved in a life of crime. Harry Rawlins (Liam Neeson) is the leader of the group who decide to steal two million dollars from a local politician, Jamal Manning, (Brian Tyree Henry) and pay it to adversary Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). The plan goes awry, ending with the gang getting blown away. Jamal is looking to be repaid and responsibility of repayment now falls to the widows of Rawlins’ group.
Jamal enlists the help of his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) to be the enforcer. Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis) does not take this threat lightly and makes it her responsibility to band the remaining widows together to pull off what would have been Harry’s last job, repay Jamal and split the remaining money among themselves.
If you were to break this film down it checks all the right boxes and is cinematically very well done. This movie is a puzzle with many adjacent pieces being put together to throw the viewer off balance. It’s stylish and has a good pacing, but as an armchair expert there are certain things that just don’t click for me.
The movie relies heavily on flashbacks to give the viewer a sense of the relationship between Davis and Neeson’s characters. The movie fails to do the same for any of the other female leads, so connection to those characters are missing. As a female lead, Davis does a good job. That being said, there are certain elements of her character that are hard to accept. In one flashback Davis says that she never thought she’d marry a white guy, much less a criminal.
In current scenes she seems absurdly unaware of her husband’s activities. She also seems to know exactly how to follow Harry’s old school hand book to pull off the job. In regard to the other leads, surprisingly, newcomer Elizabeth Debicki seems to get more screen time than Michelle Rodriguez. Debicki does a good job handling her character arc from helpless female to a slightly more empowered individual. Rodriguez still plays the tough character that is her typical style.
Both Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell also have decent parts in the film. Their father/son dynamic is to serve the purpose of pushing Farrell, but fails to do so effectively. There is one scene where Duvall gives Farrell’s character a solid tongue lashing, but the line delivery rings false. In that moment I almost felt myself laughing as though that take should have been on the blooper reel.
The bad guy plot doesn’t seem as nefarious as it maybe should. The driving force being that Jamal (Henry) wants to live the life that Jack is living and make money the easy way, off his constituents. Kaluuya does a great job playing an intense enforcer but in the end (SPOILERS) dies in a way that is so ridiculous I actually looked around to see if anyone else was lost.
The ending of the movie is as to be expected. At the same time l feel confused by the final pieces of Neeson’s character arc. As a viewer, it’s clear that he not a good guy. You’re also left unsure why he was taking the time to double cross so many people.
Not all movies need a neatly wrapped bow at the end. They should leave the viewer feeling as though they haven’t wasted their movie pass.
Overall score 2/5