Take the murder propensities of the movie John Wick, the inept political intrigue from Ides of March, and throw in the gender twist of girl-heist film Ocean’s Eight, and you have Widows. All four movies share two things: a penchant for persistent mediocre storytelling, which is somewhat redeemed by solid performances by talented A-List actors.
Viola Davis leads the cast as Veronica, the widow of a career criminal (Liam Neeson) who died during a heist gone awry. The guy they were stealing from wants his money back, and tells Veronica if she doesn’t come up with two million dollars in a month, she’s toast. So Viola puts on her trademark brave, determined face, and puts together her own heist.
So here’s the plot: a woman who worked with the teacher’s union is now following her late husband’s meticulously laid out plans for a mega robbery that will pay off the debt with enough left over to set up her and the crew for the foreseeable future. That crew will be made up by the other equally unqualified and desperate widows from the heist. Meanwhile the guy who was robbed is running for Alderman in Chicago, and the guy the girls are going after is his opponent.
And as implausible as all that sounds, it’s only starting to go off the rails.
I get it.. movies like Widows are designed to be escapist fare, and are usually excused for defying reasonable logic. But by enlisting a cast filled with Davis, Neeson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez, Robert Duval, Bryan Tyree Henry, and Daniel Kaluuya, you’re implying a superior cast is joining a superior production with a superior script. That is not the case here.
Duval is clearly here for the paycheck. Kaluuya is okay in the predictable role written for him. Farrell is good in giving his shallow character at least some depth while Rodriguez operates in Viola’s shadow.
You Don’t Need Miss Cleo to Predict What’s Coming
Once the crew is assembled, the self-assured Veronica doles out assignments like figuring out blueprints, acquiring guns, and getting vans. They’re told to figure it out, so let the Ocean’s Eight hijinks begin.
Luckily, one of them is making ends meet, literally, by working as a high-priced call girl (her mother suggested the idea). Her main client is an architecture geek so, voila, problem solved! The other assignments and recruiting are solved with similar displays of girl power.
This movie also reminds us of something we quickly learned watching soaps in the 80s & 90s: if you don’t see the body, they probably ain’t dead.
Past is Present
The movie uses obvious foreshadowing and overuses flashbacks to make sure we know that Veronica and her hubby have a painful past. It’s a cheap way to try to advance, justify, and ultimately resolve bad behavior. Again, you don’t need to keep your psychic friends on standby to figure out what comes next.
The predictable final reunion/confrontation at the climax of the film is, well, anticlimactic.
This movie had so much potential to show the power of desperation to drive people to do whatever they need to survive and thrive. But instead it devolves into a ‘anything boys can do, girls can do better.’ And that’s a waste.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Irish whisky. We’re pretty sure that’s what Liam was sipping from his flask in the movie.. and likely what he was drinkin’ when he decided to accept this role.