REVIEW: ‘Widows’ is a disappointing time at the theater.

A trio of women going through grief are quickly forced into action in this new heist flick.

“Widows” takes place in an area of Chicago and follows a group of women, Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki). At the movie’s onset, the three have never met each other, but their husbands all work closely. However, their work includes pulling off criminal heists.

The film picks up with one of these jobs, helmed by Veronica’s husband Harry (Liam Neeson), going wrong and the whole crew getting killed. Not only does this put the three women in the grieving process, but the job their husbands attempted has left a sort of trail, putting them in danger. As a result, they decide to go through with a plan originally written up by Harry and pull off the heist to begin new lives.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find “Widows” to be a very good cinematic experience. Apparently this is an adaptation of a mini-series, and it shows, because there are times when it feels the movie bites off more than it can chew.

There are several additional sub-plots going on, from a seemingly random character working at a salon coming into the picture to a backstory concerning Veronica’s deceased son. There’s already the drama from the these women going through the grieving process and the thrills from the heist planning, so these and other additional stories felt excessive in a movie format.

There’s also the factor of the film taking place during a political campaign, where there are two candidates for Chicago City Council with skeletons in their closet. It came across like some of these sub-plots were added more for social and political commentary than to enhance the narrative structure. It’s not wrong to have this commentary, but I feel like it’s been done better in other crime thrillers, such as “Hell or High Water” or “Wind River.”

Because of all this, there’s a lack of attention given toward the three lead protagonists, whether it comes to their grief or their heist planning.

On that note, the heist isn’t all that complex or intriguing either. It also doesn’t help that the film has some absurd twists in the third act.

I can give plenty of credit to the acting, considering the very talented cast of performers. Davis, an Academy Award winner, is of course a standout here. While she does take center stage often, though, the two other leads, Rodriguez and Debicki are valuable assets to the picture.

Colin Farrell also deserves praise for his work as the established politician. I understand Chicago politics has a negative reputation when it comes to politics and Farrell seems to embody that well.

I can’t say I appreciated all of the performances, though. Daniel Kaluuya, for example, was too over the top in his portrayal of one of the antagonists, having this ridiculous scowl on his face, it came off as cartoonish or something you’d see from a comic book adaptation.

Another issue with “Widows” is the fact that the group lacked camaraderie or chemistry. The main protagonists just feel disjointed when they’re on screen, as if they haven’t been working together for a while on this heist and learning about each other.

There are good performances featured in “Widows” and Steve McQueen, who directed the Best Picture-winning “12 Years a Slave,” is a competent filmmaker and put together a well-made feature here with his crew. However, the overall film was lacking. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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