In 1983, Lynda La Plante and Ian Toynton brought Widows to the small screen starring Ann Mitchell, Maureen O’Farrell and Fiona Hendley. Thirty-five years later, Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn resuscitate Widows for the big screen and the current climate of 2018 in the streets of Chicago. Veronica and Harry Rawlings (Viola Davis and Liam Neeson) seem like the perfect couple, kissing, hugging and enjoying life by day. But by night Harry is a notorious thief.
For 30 years, Harry has pulled epic heists and fantastic thievery without getting caught. But this heist doesn’t go in his favor. His buddies (Jon Bernthal and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) get injured in a high-speed chase from the cops carrying $2 million from a rival gang. When they arrive at their secret hideout, they try to escape into another van. But just before they pull off, the van explodes killing them all.
This all happens during election season for the 18th ward of Chicago with newcomer Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) and long-time competitor Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). When Jamal hears about the heist, which was supposed to be the money for his campaign, he takes matters into his own hands. He visits Veronica and threatens her to give him $2 million before the election or, as the classic line goes, “or it won’t be pretty.”
Veronica, unaware of Harry’s criminal life, manages to pull herself together and finds his detailed notebook of every heist he’s ever pulled. She rounds up the other two widows of Harry’s partners, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki), to pull off what would have been Harry’s next heist.
Widows has everything from action and romance to drama and comedic relief. Viola Davis goes from the tearful wife to the badass initiator, similar to her roles as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad and Rose Maxson in Fences. She refuses to back down without a fight. Davis deserves at least one Oscar nomination for her performance. Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki also give convincing roles as the two lackeys.
Director and writers Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn incorporate current political and societal climates of 2018 including the empowering of women through the #MeToo Movement, giving diversity among main and supporting characters from African-Americans to Asian Americans, the election season (when we’re just getting off the wave of the midterm) and the issues of young Black men being slaughtered by police officers without warning.
To say that McQueen’s Widows is a typical heist movie would be an insult. He took the original concept of Lynda La Plante’s show and made it parallel to 2018 America. Although it’s a 2-hour flick and some scenes may be a bit confusing, it all comes together and is worth the time.
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