written by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen
based on the TV series Widows by Lynda La Plante
directed by Steve McQueen
I took my dad to see Widows hoping to enjoy a critically lauded crime thriller and some popcorn. Halfway through the trailers we got a preview of Aquaman (2018), and my father laughed and grunted his disapproval – superheroes and fantasy have never been part of his wheelhouse. The lights went off and the faces of Viola Davis and Liam Neeson filled the screen.
Forty minutes later, my dad whispered in my ear, “We should’ve seen Aquaman.”
I can’t put it any better than that. Steve McQueen is a writer/director who knows style, as can be seen in previous efforts such as Shame (2011) and 12 Years a Slave (2013). But Widows is a narrative mess, which immediately tells me, yet again, that critics are full of shit (not me, of course). Neeson plays Harry, the leader of a gang of thieves who get killed robbing two million dollars from Chicago crime boss Jamal (Brian Tyree Henry). To pay back the money, Harry’s wife Veronica (Davis) recruits two of the other widows, Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), to steal five million dollars from a wealthy politician’s mansion. Yeah, because that makes a lot of sense.
Not one single minute of Widows felt convincing to me. Not the plot which asks you to believe that a teacher’s union delegate, a store owner, a sugar baby, and a babysitter can pull off a heist with no prior experience; not the antagonists, which include an over-the-top Daniel Kaluuya as a vicious thug and Colin Farrell phoning it in as a slimy city hall candidate; and certainly not the obligatory twist where one of the main characters turns out not to be dead after all. Perhaps the Brit TV series on which Widows is based works better, but this adaptation comes across as too indifferent and disjointed… and probably nowhere near as much fun as a dude who can talk to fish.
Carlos I. Cuevas