Yo, this be Reuben. I hear Steve McQueen’s quite the famous chap when it comes to films. But I’m not ashamed to admit that before this, I’d never seen one of his films. So this little review’s gonna be from the perspective of a 17-year-old who hasn’t seen any of his films before and doesn’t know all that much about films in general. Oh joy.
Set in good ol’ gangsta city Chicago, Widows follows the story of four widows (surprise surprise) who are forced by threat of death into a job to pay the debt left by their criminal husbands, AKA Liam Neeson and his bunch of merry men. The plot weaves around with bells and whistles and dipplywags and it’s all a bit dodgy, really. This bloke called Jamaal Manning, who’s well dodgy, is trying to get into office as mayor, then there’s Jack Mulligan, who’s trying to retain his family’s place in office, and he’s kinda dodgy too. It all goes a bit pear shaped, basically.
What McQueen gets very right with Widows is its tone, pulling off one that is aptly dark and intense enough so that the job appears as terrifying as it is for the characters, but with that cool mobster edge that makes it entertaining enough so to be accessible. The acting is top-draw from just about everyone in the cast list, with Viola Davis putting in a particularly strong lead performance. That’s topped off by some fantastic cinematography, which ties together subtly impressive action sequences and brooding scenes to equivalent quality, all culminating in some very memorable moments. McQueen and co. did an expert job here, one worthy of Oscar nominations.
However effortlessly well produced a film it clearly it is, though, it’s not one with a particularly huge lasting impression, and it’s not the best this year has to offer. I would have liked to have seen more of Manning and his brother in action, because although I understand why they take a step to the side towards the end considering the direction the story takes, their intimidating criminalities n’ all brought the most entertainment and brooding to the film, with Daniel Kayuula being especially impressive in his role as Jamaal’s brother/hit-man. I think the fact they kinda disappear after a while is a bit disappointing. I also feel like the direction the story takes could have more of an impact, while the film could have benefited from a more clear antagonist.
Nonetheless, those aforementioned criminalities n’ all that the Mannings bring to the fore for much of the film is indeed fantastic, while the over-arching foreboding, aggressive nature of the film works wonders for it from start to finish. That expertly executed tone also provides the foundation from which the core cast of characters could develop, and it’s an interestingly written cast. Even so, the Mannings I felt were lacking in development, just as they were in screen-time towards the end, and I can’t shake the feeling that some things just didn’t quite sit right with me here.
At the end of the day, Widows, technically, is a fantastic film, stylistically as slick as it’s gritty. It’s also an enjoyable time, and a couple of performances stick out as some of the best of the year. But I left the cinema wanting a little more, and I’m not in a rush to watch it again. Still, McQueen’s latest romp comes recommended to anyone into crime, heist, and all that malarkey.
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