Widows (2018)


Critic Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.


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Movie Info

From Academy Award (R)-winning director Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave") and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn ("Gone Girl") comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption. "Widows" is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar (R) winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. "Widows" also stars Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Haas and Brian Tyree Henry.

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Critic Reviews for Widows

All Critics (332) | Top Critics (41)

It's the dashing camerawork and broad historical awareness of Widows that makes it a truly sophisticated action film, and by far the best crime movie of 2018 so far.

Nov 30, 2018 | Full Review…

It offers everything adults used to love about cinema.

Nov 28, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The movie tosses back at viewers a variety of casual exasperations-inchoate, flip, and manipulable-that flatten and simplify the very ills and grievances that it dramatizes.

Nov 19, 2018 | Full Review…

It's not clear exactly what kind of movie(s) Widows wants to be: feminist heist thriller? Sprawling political saga? Bare-knuckled gangster noir?

Nov 18, 2018 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

A gritty romp that makes the cliché-prone heist genre feel fresh again.

Nov 16, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Enough quality action and surprises to keep it interesting.

Nov 16, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Widows

Its simple brutality is often staggering. Characters die suddenly, without fanfare and you're often never sure who is next. Davis obviously gives a knockout performance but so does Michelle Rodriguez who again proves she is so much better than what she usually gets to do.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

SCENE STEALERS - My Review of WIDOWS (4 Stars) With HUNGER, SHAME and 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Steve McQueen has proven himself as a director with such a specific vision, you can decipher it's one of his films just by watching a few moments. He's fond of long takes and negative space within a frame, always choosing carefully what he wants to show the audience and what he doesn't. With smaller art films, his aesthetic feels unique and welcome, but I worried when word got out that his next film would tackle a specific genre...the heist film. I breathed a sigh of relief when WIDOWS, which he also co-wrote with Gillian Flynn (GONE GIRL), is a sprawling, excitingly tense thriller and one of the year's best films. Although it stars Viola Davis, every single principal cast members has a chance to shine in this twisty tale of a group of widows drawn into completing a robbery left unfinished when their criminal husbands meet an unfortunate end. McQueen intercuts this powerful opening sequence with comparatively serene flashbacks which introduce our main characters and their soon-to-die spouses. The juxtaposition sets the tone for the rest of the film, one meant to catch the viewer off guard. Davis plays Veronica, whose husband Harry (Liam Neeson) leads his gang to their doom. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) make up the other widows and the plot kicks into gear when a politican/gangster named Jamal Manning (a fantastically hypnotic Brian Tyree Henry) gives Veronica thirty days to come up with $2 million to replace the money her husband stole from him. Jamal's henchman, Jatemme (a memorably frightening Daniel Kaluuya), will stop at nothing to help his brother achieve this goal, and the violence that ensues feels viscerally traumatizing. Complicating matters further, Jamal has a political rival, Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), a rich and soulless power broker who also factors heavily in the case of the stolen money. Their campaigns for Alderman frame the macro story, giving us a corrupt society in which to experience the micro story of the heist. Unlike the OCEANS 11 franchise, where the mechanics of the theft take center stage, McQueen focuses on the characters, making this a particularly rich, layered entry into the genre. Davis gives a commanding performance, although it's intensely humorless, but appropriate considering the circumstances. She drives the action, but remains the strong, steady heroine while generously allowing her co-stars to walk away with the film. It's not that she's bad. She's great, especially in her vulnerable moments, including an unexpected slapping scene or one in which some unexpected information punctures her mask of control. Rodriguez, however, knocked me out. Usually the strong, silent type, she has a scene of intense vulnerability, showing us a new side to her. Debicki, so hauntingly strange in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2, knocks her role out of the park as an abused woman who discovers her independence. Robert Duvall, at 86, stunned me as Farrell's racist, hideous monster of a father, Jacki Weaver, as usual, excels as Debicki's mother from hell and Lukas Haas impressed as an assured man who hires Debicki for sexual companionship during her more desperate times. Special mention also goes to Cynthia Erivo as an extremely athletic driver for the women who refuses to take any stuff from Davis. She's a Broadway star who has blasted onto the film scene this year, and I'm excited to see what she does next. McQueen relies on a lot of fractured imagery in the film, beautifully shot by his longtime cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, but the centerpiece of this film is a long take from outside a limo as Farrell and his aide drive from a poor section of town to a wealthy one. Never once cutting to his actors, we hear their scheming while reflecting on the economic disparity which acts as an overall theme of the film. It's scenes like this which separate McQueen from lesser filmmakers who would have kept the camera on the actors' faces. The film also has memorable scenes involving a very cute doggy, terror on a basketball court and in a bowling alley, and a gorgeous moment of release in the end. Not to spoil anything, but the last shot had a similar emotional impact on me that William Hurt's final close-up did in THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. WIDOWS has a lot of story, but it's easy to follow and, for me, feels like an epically satisfying meal. Although nothing new when it comes to female empowerment stories, the beauty is in the telling of it. McQueen proves that it's possible to be on the edge of your seat AND care about the people you're watching.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

A great heist film always gets me excited, as the intricacies that can be put into those stories can make for a fantastic film. From movies like Heat to newer movies like The Town, this genre has always had me yearning for the next great one. While I don't believe Widows quite fits into the conversation with the two aforementioned films, I believe the audience will absolutely get their fill with this one. Director Steve McQueen has directed critically acclaimed films like Shame and even directed a film to win best picture in 12 Years a Slave, and although I don't personally believe you'll be seeing very much of this film around the coming awards circuit, here's why I believe it's worthy of seeing in theaters. A heist has gone wrong. Four women have been left without husbands and to protect their own lives and families, they decide to complete the unfinished job that had been set in motion by their late partners. With the addition of a politician (which I won't get into detail on), it adds a few needed layers for the overall story. This film's premise has the potential to be incredibly emotionally resonant, but I feel as those the first act of this film shoots down any real emotional impact that the ending of the film could've had. The heist that kicks off the film feels incredibly rushed and I understand that the point of the movie is to focus on the four widows themselves, but the fact that the deaths of their husbands is brushed over left no room for emotion in my opinion. The husbands should have been more fleshed out so that audiences can get attached to every character before their demise. This was the films biggest downfall in my opinion, but it left a pretty big hole in my overall experience of this movie. I wish I had cared more about who lived and who died. The biggest thing Widows has working in its favour is the fact that Steve McQueen is a very talented filmmaker and the trio of writing talents with McQueen, Gillian Flynn, and Lynda La Plante was fantastic. This movie is full of surprises and I feel as though many viewers will have their jaw on the floor on a couple different occasions, but as I said, the emotional impact of everything is slightly lost, due to how brief the opening of the film is. Sadly, this is a rare case where I feel that most of this movie could be looked at as the best film of 2018, but the first act really taints those praises for me. On top of the well-written screenplay and overall great direction, this cast is stacked from head to toe. From Viola Davis giving an always devoted performance to Michelle Rodriguez giving her all, to relative newcomers in Cynthia Erivo and Elizabeth Debicki, to even Colin Ferrel and Robert Duvall who always do their thing on-screen, I was blown away by this cast. I would mention the performances of the husbands, but as I said, they're very brief. If it wasn't for these three elements, I don't believe I would've enjoyed this premise as much as I did. In the end, this is a very, very solid film that had the potential to be a great one. Not enough development is given to anyone to truly care about who makes it out of these situations. Steve McQueen is a director whom I will follow until his very last film entry because he's just that talented and Widows isn't a slight to that statement whatsoever. Although surprising and well-structured, this movie does feel like it's missing something and I feel an additional 20 minutes in the first act may have had me loving the film as a whole. Overall, Widows is a very good time at the movies and I recommend checking it out.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Intense and riveting. Cast does a stand up job, including Paper Boi' turn as a gangster gone politician. Impressive change of pace for Steve McQueen.

Spencer Macklin
Spencer Macklin

Super Reviewer

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