Film Review | Widows

Widows is the antithesis of heist movies that celebrate criminal ingenuity fuelled by masculine bravado.

Widows turns the tables and show ingenious women who are able to confront and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their lives. 

ROLE REVERSAL: Elizabeth Debicki, Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo turn the tables on heist movie tropes in Widows.

ROLE REVERSAL: Elizabeth Debicki, Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo turn the tables on heist movie tropes in Widows.

Following the death by misadventure of their criminal male partners, three women from differing backgrounds, Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), plus getaway driver Belle (Cynthia Erivo), are forced to merge their skills and daring-do to overcome their impending demise at the hands of brutal gangsters Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) Manning, who claim the women’s partners stole money from the Mannings.

Veronica is given one month to repay the stolen money. The consequences if she does not repay the money are made clear. 

Jatemme is a sociopath who dispenses pain and suffering without a second thought about the moral implications of his actions.

All of this unfolds in the streets of southside Chicago during a political campaign to elect a city alderman. To complicate matters, Jamal Manning is also running for alderman against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell).

The Mulligans are white politicians running for office in a black Chicago electorate. The shadow of corruption and racial tensions are central to the powerplay between these political opponents.

The political deals provide a background to Veronica, Alice and Linda’s plan to steal $5million from a safe room vault based on plans left by her dead husband Harry (Liam Neeson).

They are interesting and diverse women whose relationships with their partners range from loving to abusive to uncaring.

Therein lies the dilemma of Widows. 

Director Steve McQueen and writer Gillian Flynn stretch the audience’s credulity by proposing that three women inexperienced in criminal activities, who were either unaware of their partners’ criminality or chose to look sideways, suddenly become master thieves with expertise in small arms weapons, capable of outsmarting sophisticated security installations and multiple security personnel.

The other matter is that Widows telescopes its intentions before they happen. What were meant to be twists, turns and surprises in Veronica’s plot to liberate the cash are plain to see without the necessity to decipher clues.

On the one hand, Widows is a deft film that shows strong women dealing with their problems in a straightforward and competent manner; on the other hand, it asks us to take a huge step in accepting their quickly acquired felonious skills.

There’s plenty of fire power in the stellar cast, almost too many to follow each character’s story, plus concerns around honesty, trust, faith, betrayal and self-affirmation.

Widows is a heist film that shows the personal, social and political entanglements that impact Veronica, Alice’s and Linda’s lives while providing plenty of bullets, shootings and explosions to ignite your adrenalin.