Widows Review

Being a widow isn’t much fun.

Losing the most precious person in your life is hard enough, but given enough time you can almost learn to live with this.

Or at least forget enough about them to carry on existing.

But it’s the talking that really hurts, being forced to relive the worst moment of your life over and over again whenever someone you know – or someone you don’t – wants to know how or who you are.

Which mostly boils down to who you’re fucking.

Or who you’re not.

The only thing you can do is create just enough distractions so you can make it through the day.

And as Steve McQueen’s new film Widows amply demonstrates, planning an armed robbery is just about as distracting as it gets.

Veronica’s husband Harry isn’t a good man, but he’s always been good to her.

And he’s even better at stealing other people’s money.

That is until his latest high stakes heist goes spectacularly wrong when the police catch Harry and his team in the act.

One high speed chase and an explosive shoot out later, and all Veronica has left of her husband are some memories.

And Harry’s notebook, outlining his next job in great detail.

Now Veronica’s no criminal mastermind, that would be Jamal – the recently retired gang boss trying to go clean who just so happens to be the latest victim of Harry’s bungled heist.

Thanks to her husband, Jamal’s down a couple of million dollars that literally went up in smoke along with Harry and his team, which isn’t an expense his new political life can easily absorb.

The way Jamal sees it, Veronica’s on the hook for Harry’s sins – and he’s going to claw back his losses by any means necessary.

Faced with the choice of fighting or flighting, Veronica opts for the former and puts in motion a plan to carry out Harry’s final heist to pay off his debt.

But she can’t do this on her own, Veronica is going need her own team – and she knows just the recently widowed girls in need of some fast money.

Widows is McQueen’s first film since his academy award winning 12 Years a Slave, and signals a departure from his arthouse roots of Hunger and Shame.

Inspired by an 80’s tv show of the same name, Widows is a big budget blockbuster with an all-star cast that will open McQueen’s work up to a much larger audience.

The thrilling opening sequence sucks you in as soon as Widows begins, followed by a slick and clever action thriller that will keep you guessing about the fate of our heroines until the final act.

Well, almost… the actual climax feels slightly rushed as consequences for all the characters McQueen introduces in the previous two hours are largely brushed over to keep the running time down.

So pretty much the polar opposite of Peter Jackson’s Return of the King.

There are some rather convenient plot twists that don’t quite add up to the cinematic reality McQueen has created too – regardless, Widows is head and shoulders above any other action film you’ll see this month.

Kind of like Elizabeth Debicki in heels towering over any mere mortals caught in her orbit, which happens a lot in this film.

And though McQueen has entered the realm of mainstream cinema, he hasn’t forgotten how to introduce important issues that mainstream society would much rather pretend don’t exist.

Like the murderous actions of america’s institutionally racist police officers.

Rather less importantly, Widows ticks all the right boxes for anyone in need of a two hour long distraction.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to come up with your own distractions to fill the rest of your day.

Jonathan Campbell

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November 2018
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