Losing her husband in a heist gone terribly wrong, Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is confronted by politician Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry). Manning gives Veronica two weeks to pay back his $2,000,000 that her husband stole from him or pay the ultimate price.
Contacting two of the other widows, Veronica convinces Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) to help her pull off one of her husband’s next jobs.
As these strong fledgling thieves attempt to plan a heist, the mechanisms of politics begin to move against them, squeezing Veronica and her crew in a vice that forces desperate action.
“Widows” is a taut thriller set within the dark underbelly of present day Chicago.
Veronica struggles with depression and grief after losing her loving husband. Audiences experience their close relationship through flashback as she searches for answers and the scattered pieces of her life. When Jamal Manning lays out a grim future for her if she doesn’t pay him back, she is forced to make tough choices in order to survive.
Writer/director Steve McQueen (“12 Years A Slave,” “Shame”) brings less of a heist film to theaters but more of a human one.
Delving deeply into the emotional weight of loss and betrayal with the unforgiving and dangerous side of crime, offers a sad and moving perspective for these widows. As they struggle find footing on the slippery slope of debt, the powerful forces who look to exploit them continue to maneuver against these women.
Veronica, Linda, Alice and later Belle (Cynthia Erivo) are victims caught in a world in which they don’t belong. It’s when these desperate women begin to plan their heist that they realize taking control of their lives and fate offers both comfort and a way out.
This thriller has danger, tears, twists and a satisfying conclusion. This strong talented female cast struts its cinematic stuff –enlightening audiences to what good writing and strong female characters and cast can accomplish.
Rodrigues’ Linda and Debicki’s Alice have both lost everything through no fault of their own. They are each slapped in the face with the reality that they never truly controlled their lives. Their subtle performances strengthen this film.
Erivo’s Belle is added to the crew late in the game. Her impact to the film adds a needed edge and further drives home the theme that every hero in the film is a victim.
Colin Ferrell’s Jack Mulligan is a fascinating and layered character, showing a broken man who loathes his job and responsibilities. While Brian Tyree Henry’s Jamal Manning and the talented Daniel Kaluuya’s Jatemme Manning are “politicians” from the neighborhood who use pure unbound violence as a political alternative to the current dirty politician.
Viola Davis’ gives a memorable and notable performance. She wears her inner struggles within her posture, tears and expressions. Her outer struggles force her to become hardened and aggressive with her crew as the noose tightens.
Themes of betrayal, control and hope ricochet off these women as plot twists turn the hunted into the hunters.
“Widows" is a complex and layered gem. A story of desperation, risk and an unexpected reward – a female-centric film that shines a light on good storytelling and great acting.