By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Director Steve McQueen,
who gave us the excellent movie, “12 Years a Slave,” is back with “Widows,”
an electrifying heist drama that will make your head spin in a good way.
“Widows,” which McQueen co-wrote with Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), is actually based on the 1983 British hit television series of the same name.
Not only is McQueen’s film a twisty and daring little caper, it also benefits from an explosive cast led by a fierce Viola Davis (TV’s “How to Get Away with Murder”).
The last time I saw Davis bring this much heat to the screen was when she was lashing out at Denzel Washington in “Fences.”
In “Widows” Davis plays Veronica Rawlings. The movie opens with her spending some quality time in the sack with her career criminal husband Harry (Liam Neeson, “The Commuter”). They live well in a tony Chicago penthouse. She works for the school district, but clearly, Harry is the the one with all the paper.
However, Veronica’s cozy and lavish lifestyle is suddenly upended when one of Harry’s robberies goes terribly wrong. He and his partners: Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”), Florek (Jon Bernthal, TV’s “The Punisher” and “The Walking Dead”) and Jimmy (Coburn Goss, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”) are killed during a lengthy shootout.
Veronica barely has time to grieve over Harry before she’s thrown for another major loop by a crime boss named Jamal Manning (an excellent Brian Tyree Henry, (“White Boy Rick” and TV’s “BoJack Horseman”).
Jamal is the guy that Harry robbed for $2 million. He’s attempting to make the South Side of Chicago great again and is running for district alderman. He needs all that money to help finance his campaign.
While it might seem like Jamal is a shoo-in for the spot, he’s really not because he’s running against Jack Mulligan (a terrific Colin Farrell, “Roman J. Israel Esq.”).
Jack is a debonair politician that knows how to reach out and connect with the black community. Jack is also the son of the incumbent Tom Mulligan (the always great, Robert Duvall, “The Judge”). The family has had a stranglehold on that ward for several years.
So, there’s one showdown brewing.
An even bigger one involves Jamal. He wants that $2 million now. He breaks into Veronica’s place and makes it known too by clutching her little dog and threatening to rip it and her to pieces if she doesn’t get it immediately.
And as crazy as Jamal is, his brother Jatemme (an excellent Daniel Kaluuya, “Black Panther” and “Get Out”), the real enforcer, is even crazier. This guy is ruthless and thinks nothing of beating down a man in a wheelchair for information. It’s a brutal scene, but you’ll probably applaud when Kaluuya gets his.
Of course Veronica is terrified, but surely she learned a thing or two from Harry about how criminals operate. And when she finds a blueprint of a heist that Harry left behind, she starts thinking about getting the money and not just for Jamal, but for her and the other widows left behind from that botched heist.
They include: Linda Perelli (Michelle Rodriguez, “The Fate of the Furious”) who has two kids and owns a clothing store, but now has to shut down because she can’t afford it anymore, Alice ( a terrific Elizabeth Debicki, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”), is in a bad spot too living with an abusive husband.
Alice’s mother (Jacki Weaver, TV’s “Secret City”) suggests she take advantage of her good looks and skill set and become a prostitute.
Fortunately, Alice meets a real-estate guy named David (Lukas Haas, “First Man”) and is able to latch on to him for a bit. Amanda (Carrie Coon, “Avengers: Infinity War”) has a new baby and is worried how she’ll make ends meet, but doesn’t want part of the girls scheme.
Meanwhile Belle, (a fabulous Cynthia Erivo, “Bad Times at the El Royale”and upcoming “Harriet”) is a beautician who isn’t afraid to take a chance with her life.
The plan calls for these women to rent a van, buy some guns and find that blueprint building housing the money. It’s about $5 million. That’s more than enough to pay off Jamal and divvy up the rest between them.
Can they pull this thing off?
You’ll be amazed at how they try and the incredible twisty, wild ride that “Widows” becomes. This is one smart, edgy, action-packed, female driven movie and one of the best I’ve seen this year. Don't miss it.
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Watch This Trailer For "WIDOWS"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.