Widows is pretty cold folks, and it rules.
This is basically the antithesis of Ocean’s 8, when it comes to 2018’s lady heist movies. There’s a moment where Viola Davis just spells out for the other women that they are not going to become friends, this is a job, and when it’s over they are on their own. The timeline for being on their own will be moved up are they to be caught while the job is still happening. This is a bleak movie about doing something rough and harsh because you’re being threatened, and the only way you can see out of the trap closing in is to be as hard as the steel of the bars, and move first.
That said, there are still nice moments of growth—or maybe nice isn’t the word, but satisfying. This is a grimly satisfying movie, the way good heist films can be. And there are grace notes of something warm under the chill of Chicago. There’s how Davis, wonderfully severe in this, carries her character’s soft white West Highland Terrier with her for seemingly half her scenes. She has just lost her husband, and the dog is her fluffy touchstone, fantastically incongruous against her highly structured clothes and stern manner. And there’s her interesting arc with Elizabeth Debicki, the 6’2” alien beauty from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. who gets to play relatively normal in this, an abused housewife trying to stand up on her own two feet, even if it’s to plant them in a shooting stance.
I just really like the casting of this. I like Michelle Rodriguez, with all her action bona fides, playing askew to type as someone who’s really not taking to this life of crime all that well. I like Liam Neeson, one of the current faces of action flicks like this, dying in the first act to the hand the movie over to his wife, where she can’t but move forward haunted by his shadow at every turn. I like Colin Farrell playing unsavory, always, and holy shit I like Daniel Kaluuya here, who takes his turn at BEING terrifying this time, damn. Congratulations on your eyes, you and Cynthia Erivo both, whom I did not know can also sprint like a full out track star. What can’t that woman do!
So yes the cast is superb, and the shooting is top tier. I recently learned that Steve McQueen began his career as a visual artist, and he was good at it, and yeah that shows deeply in how he sets up shots. This is a movie with a strong eye, and a really packed plot that only starts to sound outlandishly cinematic once you spell it out later, making the grimly grounded, realistic feel of watching of it all the more impressive.