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60 Second Verdict: Widows

60 Second Verdict: Widows

60 Second Verdict: Widows

15 December 2018

When Veronica Rawlings' (Viola Davis) husband is killed during a failed heist, she decides to carry out her own heist to repay a debt.

By Ben McEachen

Veronica (Viola Davis) is married to a career criminal, Harry (Liam Neeson). He and his crew get blown away in a botched job and Veronica is quickly threatened by those Harry owes money to. This recent widow gathers together the other wives of Harry’s crew – Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) – to plot a big robbery of their own. As they attempt to do what their husbands used to do, Veronica and her team become aware of how tied they all are to corrupt politicians and power brokers.

WHAT’S GOOD

Remake of a British TV series from the early 1980s, Widows is the sum of its bankable parts. The director of 12 Years a Slave combines with the writer of Gone Girl, a huge cast and a girl power twist on a heist movie. While the consequences of crime unfurl in fairly familiar ways during Widows, director Steve McQueen ensures his excellent ensemble and the layers of dodgy dealings combine to watchable effect. Davis, Debicki and Rodriguez provide a memorable female alternative to male-dominated gang movies yet co-stars Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Bryan Tyree Manning fill the political sub-plot with credibility and menace. Nice to find a film that has so many threads yet isn’t strangled by them.

WHAT’S NOT

Widows could have done with more back story, emotional wallop or less clichés towards the end. With quite a bit going on and plenty of important characters, sacrifices are made when it comes to providing detail about motivation or reactions. Also, welcome to a movie that sows the seeds of its own undermining. As good as Widows is at making you feel as if you’ve never watched a crime movie before, the freshness or novelty of some elements does wane the longer the film goes along. Particularly as it approaches a conclusion that tests logic and suspension of disbelief more than what led up to it

SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING

The depressing backdrop of Widows is people valuing power and wealth above all else, including the possibility of positive change. Whether it is the gang of widows or the politicians they begin to engage with, everyone seems convinced that the only way to get ahead is control. There’s no other way to live your life but get what you want, hold on to it – and trample anyone who gets in the way. But it’s worth noting how the solution to such an outlook of greed, violence and hopelessness is announced during Widows. In one scene, a church congregation is reminded to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Sadly, this incredible formula for better living – as endorsed by Jesus - is quickly kicked in the guts. But even as this quality crime flick sings a tune that seemingly suggests it’s OK for some people to do bad things to others, Widows adds up to a different symphony overall. A multi-part demonstration of just how right Jesus is about what we all really need to do to live the “good life”.

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