Widows is Steve McQueen’s first movie since his Oscar winning film 12 Years a Slave. It is based on the 80’s British TV show of the same name, but I am guessing the movie is quite a bit different than the show. Yes, they are both about widows of thieves pulling a job to pay off their late husbands’ debts, but the 2018 move also pulls in commentary about the current state of Chicago, and what it is like to be African American in America, so in other words it is not just a gritty Oceans 8.
In the opening minutes of Widows, Veronica (Viola Davis) Rawlings’ husband, Harry (Liam Neeson), and his crew are gunned down by Chicago Police officers, and it turns out the man they stole the money from is a crime boss running for alderman, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), and he needs his money to run his campaign. He gives Veronica a month to pay back the money. With nowhere to turn for help she enlists the other widows of Harry’s crew to pull off a job to pay Jamal and secure their future.
What every good heist movie must to do is make the main crew sympathetic, and Widows does that very well. The husbands were bad men, the crime boss is terrible, and the man Jamal is running against Jack Mulligan played by Colin Farrell might represent the worst of Chicago. He comes from a long line of political wheelers and dealers that have allowed and helped bring Chicago to where it is today. Some armed robbery considering all that seems minor.
If you are going to try adding politics and racial tensions to a heist movie, you need a good script, and Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame did a great job, and cast they got deliver the lines is phenomenal. Even people that were on the screen for like five minutes is ‘A’ list talent. Apparently once you win an Oscar everyone wants to work with you.
Not everything is perfect though. Because of all the added commentary Widows is a bit slower than a standard heist flick, so if you were expecting action and tense scouting, you may be disappointed. An Oceans or an Italian Job this is not.
I really liked Widows, and I thought McQueen and the bucket loads of talent that brought this movie to life did a great job. It just might not be the movie that the trailers lead you to believe that it was. Go in looking for something a little slower and more thoughtful, and I am sure you will be happy with what you see.