Review: “Widows”

We live in an age where any movie can easily become a “blockbuster film” and earn millions, current examples being “Venom” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

Although they’re definitely entertaining, they can overshadow the movies of directors like Steve McQueen, whose films are crafted to make the audience think. His newest film, “Widows,” does just that.

McQueen has an impressive filmography that consists of Academy-Award-winning/nominated films such as “12 Years a Slave” and “Shame.” It’s easy to believe “Widows” will also get an Oscar because of several factors that elevate it to being a great film.

“Widows” follows the story of four different women whose husbands are killed in an organized-crime-related shootout with police. They are then threatened by the men their husbands were against and are forced to fix the mess they started, finishing a final heist they were involved in.

The movie wastes absolutely no time with its fast pace, introducing the characters and giving their backstories within the first five minutes. Then we get to spend a lot of screen time with the four widows. The audience is not only able to sympathize with them, but we see them grow from scared vulnerable women to mercilessly powerful ass-kickers who recognize they have a job to get done (and get done quickly).

The stakes are high from the start due to the fact the four leads only have a limited amount of time to fix the mess their husbands started before their lives are in jeopardy, making for a thrilling experience.

Setting the plot aside, the movie is constructed in a stylized manner. McQueen is known for using fancy camera work and subtle storytelling in his films, and “Widows” is no exception. There are numerous close-up shots that exhibit character facial expressions. This is vital to the film, seeing as many films today suffer from an overabundance of exposition (dumbing down the plot through verbal dialogue). McQueen is a master when it comes to “show, don’t tell.”

Actor Daniel Kaluuya takes his acting abilities to the next level in this film. Because he was the main protagonist in the 2017 film “Get Out,” it’s easy to paint Kaluuya as a “good guy” in movies. However, in “Widows,” he plays a threatening hitman, shining a new light to the up-and-coming actor. He gives a sense of dread and fear in any scene he’s in, thus elevating the movie’s quality further.

The movie suffers from having too many characters, however. It often becomes convoluted, making the plot hard to follow. Many of the characters (such as Liam Neeson and Colin Farrell’s characters) are underdeveloped. With a runtime of more than 2 hours and 10 minutes, the film also drags on a bit long.

This being said, “Widows” is still another excellent piece of filmography, not just for McQueen, but lead actress Viola Davis as well. With many twists and turns, “Widows” is one film you don’t want to miss this year.

 

camkc2@mail.umkc.edu

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