An enjoy it and soon forget it heist thriller done with style.
Filmmaker Steve McQueen’s latest, 2018 thriller ‘Widows‘, is a classy, tense, and somewhat poignant tale. That is, if you can buy into its gimmicky premise. Either way, with a director and stellar cast firing on all cylinders you’re in for a helluva ride.
A major heist goes way wrong leaving the entire crew of professional thieves dead. And now their widows are faced with insurmountable personal debts and a local thug looking for the money those dead husbands stole and lost. Well…
Viola Davis, in a fierce performance, leads the charge as “Veronica“, taking up the mantle of her late husband/mastermind Harry (Liam Neeson). With fellow widows Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) joining up out of sheer will and mutual desperation. They’ve got Harry’s playbook and only a week to complete his next planned heist themselves or face the consequences.
McQueen keeps the tension tight and puts on a impressive, stylized show. The action sequences are Michael Mann precise. And you couldn’t ask for a better cast–which includes in support Colin Farrell, Carrie Coon, Jon Bernthal, Jackie Weaver, and even the great Robert Duvall.
Unfortunately, the politicized subplot surrounding a local alderman race between Farrell’s character and that aforementioned thug (Brian Tyree Henry) is nearly irrelevant. Adding extra grit to chew on, but, very little substance for our three would-be thieves to address.
And, then there’s the idea that strangers with little to no experience in criminality (even with “instructions”) would be able to pull off something so intricate and bold as the heist we eventual have the pleasure to witness. It strains the mind.
The script by McQueen and writer-du-jour Gillian Flynn, working from Lynda La Plante’s novel, is smart and lean. And Hans Zimmer’s razor’s edge score and Sean Bobbitt’s no prisoners cinematography offer ambiance in spades.
I just wanted a little more meat on the bone. Similar to Mann’s masterpiece ‘Heat’ the overflowing thrills and style come at the expense of character and relationship development. Couldn’t we get more from these master thespians than a sea of one-note characters with only the shallowest of motives? Only Davis and Debecki get some time to truly shine. A shame.
The 2018 thriller ‘Widows‘ offers perfectly staged action and plenty of crime does pay thrills. And the extensive cast is a dream. Choose to overlook (or not) the paper-thin characters, needless subplotting, and an incredulous premise for maximum enjoyment.