Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson
Run Time: 129 mins
Widows is the long-awaited next project by director Steve McQueen, riding off the success of the Award-winning 12 Years A Slave. Here, McQueen explores the heist film and this film is a loose adaptation of a 1980’s ITV primetime television series. He has joined forces with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn, with the script and they relocate the story to Chicago.
After a robbery job goes wrong, killing four men, the film follows their widowed wives, who team up to carry out one last job to pay back Jamal Manning, a crime boss and politician. Viola Davis’ Veronica Rawlings spearheads the job after she finds her late husband’s notebook which details all past and future heists. Davis brings the cast of women together, comprised of Michelle Rodriguez’s clothes shop owner and Elizabeth Debicki’s abused and fragmented young woman. This heist is set to the backdrop of a political campaign, which Manning is running for as well as Colin Farrell’s Jack Mulligan, who is the son of current electorate Robert Duvall’s Tom Mulligan.
Widows is an intelligent, taut and well-constructed piece that not only succeeds as a basic heist film, but it has a lot to say on the themes of gender and politics. The cast are uniformly brilliant, Viola Davis leading the pack with ease and swagger. The standouts are Michelle Rodriguez, who plays against type as one of the widows and Daniel Kaluuya as Jamal’s menacing mob enforcer brother, also playing against type as his past characters have had a sense of morality. McQueen delivers on the more basic elements of the genre in spades, the heists gripping and tension-filled and the action sequences equally satisfying, given that his previous filmography hasn’t featured this.
Visually, the film looks great with Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography outstanding. There is one sequence, which many have highlighted, where we watch a conversation from the outside of a car and we see just how quick it takes to go from a poor to an affluent neighbourhood in Chicago. Hans Zimmer’s score is also refreshingly fitting, after a couple of misfires lately, and it is used sparsely in the film’s first half but becomes more prominent in the second half.
Widows is ultimately an excellent heist film that is satisfying on a multiplex level but also bears McQueen’s director’s stamp all over it. It is a rich, sprawling tale that differs from generic heist films by having empowered female characters that face high stakes. The film is riveting from start to finish and never lets its foot off the gas at all. Coupled with Baby Driver and Logan Lucky, it is one of the best heist films in recent memory. Widows is also one of the best films of the year and would be wholly deserving, should it end up making a mark on the upcoming Awards season.