Four armed robbers have been killed on a police chase, and a crime boss has targeted their wives to pay their debts. The widows group together to finish the job, to protect themselves but also start new lives.
Based on Lynda La Plante’s TV series of the same name, the screenplay adaptation was written by Gillian Flynn, who successfully adapted her own novels Gone Girl and Sharp Objects.
This is the first time she’s adapted someone else’s work. While I haven’t watched the original TV series, and therefore can’t say if it’s well adapted, I can say that Widows itself is very well written. The characters are given plenty of layers and great dialogue, the plot takes many twists and turns that makes it unpredictable, and there are themes of sexism, racism, social cultures and politics.
Directed by Steve McQueen, the film does a great job at capturing the themes in Flynn’s screenplay, while also juggling a heavy load of cast and characters, and keeping the audience engaged for its two-hour-plus runtime. The action is pretty intense and keeps you at the edge of your seat, and scenes of violence make you feel uncomfortable, yet they're not too graphic that you need to look away.
He also puts together interesting shots: one in particular where a politician and his assistant get into a car and are being driven across town. It's shot entirely from outside the front of the car and you can hear the two characters argue never seeing them throughout the whole journey, which lasts about two minutes. It’s done to emphasise the true side of public figures when they are not seen by anyone, and it’s a break in between him putting on acts for the people seeing him.
It is the cast and characters however that really makes this film. Viola Davis is one of the best actresses working today, effortlessly holding the audience's attention as she brings her character Veronica to life as the leader who asserts authority yet suppresses any kind of emotion dealing with her current tragedy as well as a past tragedy.
Michelle Rodriguez gets to show a range of drama and vulnerability, which is refreshing compared her tough girl action roles she usually plays. Her character is a devoted mother who was used by her husband but is shamed into believing she used him. Rodriguez does a fantastic job making her likeable and not stupid despite her mistakes.
Elizabeth Debicki is a standout as Alice a young abused wife who’s forced to become an escort for money by her equally abusive mother. Throughout the film you see Alice grow to become a stronger woman who refuses to be mistreated. Debicki is really convincing in showing her character’s evolution without making it feel forced.
Cynthia Erivo joins the team late, as her character Belle is not one of the widows but a hairdresser who sees her boss being used and abused. Also in need of money to support her children, she becomes the getaway driver, and she does get a few standout moments. The best parts are when they are trying to work out the plans of the heist, something they all have zero knowledge about, yet together they learn and discover their inner strengths.
They are all supported by a powerhouse ensemble cast: Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Daniel Tyree Henry, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Garret Dillahunt. They all get their moments to shine.
In conclusion, this a great crime thriller with great performances and characters, brilliantly directed and an engaging story.
Written by Jack Parish