Directed and co-written by Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave, Shame) with author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Widows is an American adaptation of the 1983 British TV series of the same name. The plot follows three women — Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) — whose criminal husbands (Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) are killed in a failed robbery but the cash isn’t found.
Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), the black criminal politician who was robbed from, and his murderous psychopathic brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) threatens the widows to return the money. The ladies are forced to attempt a heist job themselves to rob the home of Jack Mulligan (Colin Ferrell), the white politician whom Jamal is running against in the South Side election.
Remember the recent Ocean’s 8 (2018) that wasn’t great? Widows is here to completely replace it from our memory as the true heist film with an all-female team. It is also quite refreshing compared to most heist films that are usually comedic and not very deep with characters basically just want to get rich quick. Whereas in Widows, the ladies have zero experience and are forced to smarten up and grow a pair or be seriously harmed. There are real substance and motivations. The film is serious, gritty, dramatic and has strong, complex themes of racism, sexism, police brutality and dirty politics.
It may not be as entertaining or rewatchable as the more popular, fun and unrealistic heist thrillers as the heist itself is pretty short which may disappoint those who’re watching it solely for that. However, the situation is highly engaging. I could really feel the danger, fear and painful emotions going through the characters who’re all very well performed by the cast. Particularly lead actress Viola Davis (Fences, Suicide Squad, The Help).
The political subplot between Manning and Mulligan is somehow interesting as well and drives a strong message along with the others in the film. Everything ties up in the end to allow for a very tidy, meaningful closure. I’d be pretty surprise if Widows wasn’t considered to be nominated for some big awards.
What I would’ve named the film: “Ocean’s 4”
Malaysian censorship: No scene was noticeably cut at the press screening. Only certain profanities may have been muted.
Verdict: It offers more than just a gritty heist thriller drama. It’s a heist film with a purpose.
Rating: 4 / 5
Based on: 1983 TV series, “Widows”
Genre: Crime, thriller, drama
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Steve McQueen
Screenwriters: Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen
Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo with Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson
Malaysia Release Date: 17 January 2019 (GSC International Screens only)
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Regency Enterprises, Film4, See-Saw Films, Lammas Park Productions