Director: Steve McQueen
Cast: Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry and Robert Duvall.
Synopsis: A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows — Veronica, Linda, Alice and Belle — have nothing in common except a debt left behind by their spouses’ criminal activities. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms, Veronica joins forces with the other three women to pull off a heist that her husband was planning.
Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) is back with a new crime-thriller (based on a 1980’s ITV series?), and thanks to an excellent ensemble cast, a great script and some pitch-perfect direction, the Oscar-winning director has managed to deliver yet another emotional, gripping, terrifying and beautifully heartbreaking drama.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the highlight of Steve McQueen’s Widows is the incredible cast that the director has assembled. The entire ensemble gives 100%, with each A-list actor offering a noteworthy performance. Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager), in particular, manage to steal the show on more than one occasion. If you’re looking for a standout, however, you needn’t look any further than Viola Davis (Fences). The Oscar-winning actress leads the cast with yet another excellent performance, which beautifully balances extreme vulnerability with ice-cold strength.
McQueen directs the film with unyielding confidence, telling a story that excites and entertains, while at the same time, showing us a reflection of modern society and embedding several themes into the narrative. Under another filmmakers command, Widows could have easily become a shallow and skin-deep crime-thriller, but McQueen has added surprising depth to the story, which allows us to connect on a deeper level. The director also shows great skill in his ability to balance multiple styles and tones, as the film endlessly flows back and forth between the terrifying and the utterly heartbreaking.
Action and suspense are essential components of the story, and McQueen executes each action sequence with the utmost care and attention. The film opens with an incredibly intense chase sequence, which is shot from the POV of a speeding van. This brilliantly constructed opening sets a precedent for every action sequence that comes after it, and McQueen follows this scene with some of the most brutal and uncomfortable to watch sequences of the entire year.
Regarding visuals and cinematography, McQueen and his cinematographer Sean Bobbitt have created a raw, slick and hauntingly beautiful film. Bobbitt’s cinematography is stunning, especially when given the opportunity to experiment with different shots. There are two long takes, in particular, that are executed flawlessly and working with Bobbit, McQueen has not only made an entertaining film, he’s also made a beautiful one.
The score, which has been composed by Hans Zimmer, who is often criticised for his loud and bombastic BWAAAMMMM’s, has decided to go with a low-key score for Widows, which more than works for the harsh and emotional story that McQueen is telling. However, when we enter an action scene, the score becomes more energetic, and Zimmer picks up the pace. It might not be in contention for the best score of the year, but it certainly suits the brutal and emotional story.
With Widows, Steve McQueen has delivered yet another smart, gripping, endlessly intense and brilliantly acted drama. Featuring an all-star cast at its very finest, top-notch directing, beautiful cinematography and a haunting score from Hans Zimmer, this action-packed and emotional thriller will undoubtedly please both the blockbuster crowd and fans of more artistic and subtle cinema.
Interested in hearing more of my thoughts? You can listen to my spoiler-free review of Widows in the latest episode of my podcast, Kieran’s Movie Space. Check it out in the YouTube video below: