In unorthodox fashion, Steve McQueen followed a dramatic period piece about slavery with a heist movie centered around a cast of mostly women. That heist movie, Widows, is based on a British crime show of the same name that ran from 1983 to 1985. McQueen, the director and co-writer of Widows (alongside all-star crime-thriller novelist Gillian Flynn) has created an all-time heist movie. While the pair created a timeless thriller, they may have juggled one too many plot points for a two-hour film.
Clearly based on a dense two seasons of TV, Widows picks up after a crew of thieves is killed in a job gone wrong. The crew of four men departed the world with their affairs in varying states of disarray. Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis), the wife of criminal mastermind Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), owes area criminal and aspiring politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) $2 million, as Jamal was the victim of the crew’s final take. Linda Perelli (Michelle Rodriguez) lost her livelihood, as her husband’s gambling debts led the closure of her boutique. Alice Gunner (Elizabeth Debicki) a victim of spousal abuse, has an identity crisis after her husband’s death. Amanda Nunn (Carrie Coon) becomes the single mother of a newborn child after her husband’s death. Veronica plans one final job, a $5 million heist, to solve all of the group’s problems.
Widows also stars Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Erivo, and Robert Duvall in prominent roles, further proof of its plot-devouring nature. Side plots that cover a local election, political dynasty, and personal tragedy all raise the question of why McQueen and Flynn, who display exceptional focus in 12 Years a Slave and Gone Girl, respectively, didn’t concentrate on one of these plot elements instead of all of them. Still, there are worse flaws for a movie to have than ambition, and the plots do work, they just would’ve been more effective with some space to breathe. Adding 20 minutes to Widows runtime or cutting one or two of the side plots would’ve done the trick. Every other aspect of Widows is the work of a team in complete control of what they were making.
Widows is an outstanding movie about four exceptional women that doesn’t feel the need to pat itself on the back for being a movie about four exceptional women. If you’re a fan of heist films, McQueen and Flynn have pulled a job well worth seeing.