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Widows (2018)

  • Crime Drama Thriller
  • A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows have nothing in common except a debt left behind by their spouses' criminal activities. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms, they join forces to pull off a heist.

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    Description

    "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 (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.

    IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4218572/

    Widows (2018) download

    Widows (2018) download

    Widows (2018) download


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    Reviews

    Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn co-wrote the screenplay for his crazy-intense looking crime thriller starring queen of all queens, Viola Davis. Those three names are honestly all it would take to lure us to a theater, but it actually gets better: the film, based on Lynda La Plante’s novel of the same name, follows four women whose duplicitous husbands’ deaths lead them down a dangerous path.

    Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn co-wrote the screenplay for his crazy-intense looking crime thriller starring queen of all queens, Viola Davis. Those three names are honestly all it would take to lure us to a theater, but it actually gets better: the film, based on Lynda La Plante’s novel of the same name, follows four women whose duplicitous husbands’ deaths lead them down a dangerous path. Widows co-stars everyone, basically, including Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Jacki Weaver, Colin Farrell, and Liam Neeson. Think: Good Girls meets Ocean’s 11, but the comedic elements are replaced by Davis staring soulfully into the (incredibly bleak) distance.

    This film contains two movies, and I enjoyed one of them: Widows is the story of a trio of...well, widows, who hatch a scheme to pull off a heist. The reason why the widows choose to pull off this heist in the first place is a threat by gangster-turned-political-hopeful Jamal Manning (played by Brian Tyree Henry). It was his money that the deceased husbands of the women were trying to steal before dying in an explosion set off by a hail of police bullets. The money burned up in the flames, and he wants to be repaid. Veronica Rawlings (played by Viola Davis) comes into possession of the plans for a future robbery that her husband Harry (played by Liam Neeson) was planning, and with no other options she and the other women decide to use the plans to commit the robbery themselves in order to pay off the debt (with plenty of money left over). The cast does a commendable job, with particularly good performances put forth by Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki as two of the titular widows, Cynthia Erivo as the babysitter for a third widow (played by Michelle Rodriguez) who gets brought into the scheme, and Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya as a cold-blooded henchman who doesn't need to walk around screaming and shouting in order to be terrifying. Also worth a mention is Robert Duvall, who may not be in the movie a whole lot but is memorable nonetheless. The film is shot well by cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, with one standout scene being the short drive taken by Colin Farrell's Chicago Machine political candidate from an area of blight to the nice, quiet street that he lives on at the edge of the ward where he hopes to be elected as alderman over his opponent (Manning). The camera watches as rundown inner-city buildings give way to nice houses that wouldn't seem out of place in a tidy little suburb. For a while it is interesting to watch as the women, who were not involved in their respective husbands' lives of crime, try to ready themselves for the heist. Midway through the film, however, there's a surprise reveal. I said in the title of this review that this film contained two movies, one that I liked I liked. The movie that I liked ended with this "twist", and this is where the movie that I didn't like began. Not only is the twist totally unnecessary, but the film just seems to go downhill from there. The women, whose robbing skills seemed understandably shoddy up to this point, suddenly seem to work together like a well-oiled machine. There are more twists thrown into the mix (such as the identity of the person they will be stealing from). The fate of the Rawlings' son, hinted at earlier in the movie. is revealed in a poorly executed scene. The climax of the film feels like a second-rate action flick, and the playing-out of the big twist revealed earlier in the film feels contrived. Then the film ends in a, "Really, that's how they're going to end this?" way. I don't hate this film (faint praise, I know), but I feel that there was so much wasted opportunity. If only they had kept making the movie from the first half of this film I could have given it a higher rating, but as it stands I give it a 6 out of 10.

    Arguably longer than it had to be, particualrly when a lot of side-stories had little context and zero payoff. But there is not a **single** member of this cast who disappoints. Obviously heist movies are not a new thing, but there has never been a heist movie like _Widows_ before. _Final rating:★★★ - I liked it. Would personally recommend you give it a go._

    Comments

    2 months ago

    First What worked... 1) The representation of diverse female characters on screen in leading roles. 2) The acting was great despite the bad script. 3) Directorial choices: Two moments that stood out were: 1) the intro to the characters, a well executed and well edited and sound designed sequence that cut back and forth between snipits of the women prior to becoming widows, juxtaposed with the violent heist gone wrong that eventually turned them into widows. 2) Another standout directorial moment is when Mcqueen chooses to show the journey from an impoverished predominantly black neighborhood to the wealthier part of town, all while two characters talk but are never seen. This was smart because it showcased the environment as a player in the story, and because the dialogue was mediocre at best, and actually showing the characters speaking would have felt melodramatic, expository, and uninteresting, but by shooting it in this way, it forced the viewer to listen less to the dialogue and focus more on the environment in which the event was taking place.Now for what DIDN'T work...... 1) The Story: is not only formulaic and filled with predictable tropes, but everything that happens from beginning to end is at the expense of believability and truth. While Widows pitches itself as a heist movie, there's no set-up, build up, or pay off for the heist. There is simply no struggle. Because the script never gives us a plan of the heist, we don't follow the protagonists through the process of preparing to execute a plan that may/may not go as expected, instead we just see the widows running around and buying guns and vans but with no explanation of why and how they will carry out the deed; and thus, the viewer is unable to emotionally connect to the potential exciting/scary trials and tensions of a planned heist gone awry. One of my favorite things about heist movies is that the planning involved builds the viewer's expectations for the undertaking, so by experiencing the process with the protagonists we'd immediately feel for them and want them to succeed. However, in Widows there is no mention of a plan, or a near-impossible undertaking that will keep the viewer at the edge of his/her seat rooting for the characters, instead it's just a given that there is some sort of plan in place that already exists and that is never really talked about or explained, so when the heist is in full swing, it becomes a missed opportunity to have manipulated audience expectations and to take viewers on an emotional, tense filled and action packed journey. This also eliminates any sense of real/potential danger in the film which makes for two hours and nine minutes of very slow and uneventful boredom. There is no payoff at ALL. I attended the WGA screening of this movie (followed by Q&A with Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn) and the screenwriters made sure to mention that they wanted the heist to be more "small time," they didn't want the characters to steal $20 million dollars, but rather a smaller amount that would be divided among all of them. This comment felt more like an excuse for why Widows' stakes were so low, and less of a commentary on how wonderfully effective "small time" crime movies can be. In a good "small-time crime" film, the circumstances and stakes are so dire that stealing $10 could have really significant consequences, and the build up could make it very compelling (and sad) to watch someone risk everything for a small reward. Widows fails to deliver on any substantial set-up that could lead to either a great pay off, or sad/violent/disturbing disappointment. A missed opportunity for the writers to manipulate audience emotional connection to the story and its characters. Another big issue with the film is that entire storylines are built up in Act I and then just dropped and unexplored by Acts II and III. An example of this is the story of Jamal Manning (played by Tyree Henry), who is painted as a crooked politician who serves as the catalyst/threat in the story that leads Veronica (Davis) to pursue this heist. However, while he does threaten her in Act I, Jamal's pursuit of this money falls by the wayside sometime in Act II, and Veronica's intention and reason for "going on this heist journey" (to pay back Jamal the money her husband stole, and to split the rest among the widows) never gets a resolution. She never has to face Jamal about the money, Jamal never comes back to claim the money, Jamal's entire storyline and intentions which seem to take center stage in Act I are barely mentioned or addressed by Act III. So the script sets up the audience expectations for really high stakes: If Veronica doesn't pay Jamal back the $2M then terrible things will happen to her (and to her dog?!?!) but then Jamal never comes back to collect on his threat, he never again inquire about the money that is owed to him, this storyline never really goes anywhere except on tangents and weak socio-political commentary.2) Character choices are unbelievable, relationships are poorly developed and intentions are weak and misleading. Secondary characters like that of Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya) are given center stage and built up in Act I, only to conveniently be killed off in easy and uninspired ways without struggle. Another major issue is the character of Harry Rawlins (Neeson). After his death, Harry leaves his wife a key, and a lock box combination, that sets Veronica on her journey. It is the set up that leads the viewers to believe that Harry loved his wife; so much so that after he's gone he wants her to have his most important possession - a special "notebook" that she can sell to the Mannings for a significant amount of money. So while in Act I, the story leads us to be believe Harry's intentions are to "help his grieving wife," by Act III the story wants us to believe that now he's all of a sudden willing to kill Veronica for money (If Harry was willing to fake his own death and leave Veronica his most prized possession, then why all of a sudden is he willing to kill her for this money? Wouldn't it have been easier if he never would have left her the notebook to begin with? His intentions are so muddled and all over the place that it's difficult to take anything that happens seriously). Harry's actions feel imposed onto the story to create a false sense of drama, and to add shock value, all the while compromising the believability of the characters. A ridiculous twist happens in Act III that makes Veronica's relationship to her husband feel like it was a joke all along, one with zero history, and zero emotional depth which is a contradiction to how the writers set up their relationship in Act I. When we first learn of the love story between Veronica and Harry, we are led to believe the couple shared a profound, deep connection, a complicated romantic history, they even raised a child together, and experienced the shared trauma of losing that child, but nothing in the set up of their love story would lead any smart audience member to believe that these characters would so quickly try to kill each other without a second thought. Nothing up until this point in the story leads the viewer to believe that these to people don't care enough about one another to think twice before pulling the trigger. What's shocking is not that they are willing to kill each other, but that it's even happening in the first place. The motivations, intentions and actions are confusing and completely unbelievable.3) The film is filled with convenient plot points that account for missed opportunities for dramatic tension and struggle. For example, during the heist, the women's van is taken from them (it's not stolen, it's taken because stolen would imply a struggle, and there is no struggle). This could have been a fantastic opportunity for action. The protagonists had a plan, the plan went wrong, and now they have to fix it and get their van back? Watching them have to figure out a plan B would've been interesting, they would've had to struggle to figure out a solution, but instead the film cuts to them in another car chasing the van, and magically and conveniently Kaluuya's character hits a curb/wall, and dies instantly, allowing the women to simply just take their money back. There is no confrontation with Manning. So while the script attempted to give us a shocking twist (with Kaluuya taking the van from the widows immediately post heist) the women didn't have to fight very hard to win their van back. They're also never chased by cops (at any point), even though there are gunshots during the heist, even though they are robbing an affluent neighborhood that likely has surveillance cameras and security guards, even though they leave loose ends at the Mulligan house (Nurse could call the cops when her patient Tom Mulligan is killed) but no, there is no one after the widows. Any potential complications that could make the story more interesting are never explored. There is never a sense of fear, or urgency. During the heist, another obstacle presents itself that is quickly dismissed. This happens when the nurse (Robert Duvall's caretaker) comes out of the bedroom mid robbery, at which point the widows decide to let her go back to her bedroom. In a film more grounded in reality, when the stakes are supposedly so high, and these women are supposedly so desperate and reckless, when prison or death are at risk, and their children could be left without mothers, WHY would these women let the nurse go right back to bed after being discovered? Are they not afraid she will call the police? Are they not worried she'll wake everyone up and they'll be caught? Apparently NOT. And in an attempt to make this feel like a believable choice, one of the widows says "do you think she'll call the police?" and another widow says "No that would be stupid" what is so stupid about calling the police if you're being robbed? It's just a terrible story.

    2 months ago

    Going against the grain of all the positive reviews, I found this a very unsatisfying and silly drama. The plot is incoherent and so many story lines are left undeveloped and, essentially, irrelevant. Key plot lines make no sense at all from the macro plot to the micro details that don't stack up and serve only to undermine it. I suspect the very same film from a less regarded director would be slammed but we become hyptonised to assume there must be something important and worthy going on here.With so many plot lines this would make a great Netflix series but as a film it is very poor.Only the acting redeems it.

    2 months ago

    Arguably the most ambitious heist movie since Heat (1995), just as did Michael Mann's genre (re)defining epic, Widows has aspirations far beyond the limits of its generic template. Written by Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn, and directed by McQueen, the film is based on the 12-episode ITV series, Widows (1983), written by Lynda La Plante (a six-episode sequel series, She's Out (1995), aired in 1995, and the original series was unsuccessfully remade as a four-episode miniseries, Widows (2002), on ABC in 2002). Operating firmly within a genre framework, the film essentially tries to filter the basic heist template through a feminist pseudo-MeToo prism, taking in such side-issues as political corruption, police homicide, Black Lives Matter, institutional racism, American gun culture, hegemonic masculinity, and the importance of wealth. McQueen approaches genre much like Michael Mann, as opposed to, say, Quentin Tarantino, using the generic template as a launch-pad to examine various socio-political issues, as opposed to using it as a destination in and of itself. The problem, however, is that he tries to pack far too much into too short a space of time. Whilst I can certainly appreciate and celebrate how progressive the narrative is, placing a black woman at the centre of a genre traditionally dominated by white men, the film still needs to work as a genre piece, or no amount of moralising, didacticism, polemics, or political grandstanding can save it. And this is where Widows fails most egregiously - the core genre elements are as far-fetched and ridiculous as anything you're likely to see out of mainstream Hollywood, which serves to undermine and dilute the serious topicality for which McQueen is obviously striving.Telling the story of a team of women (Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez, Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) , and Belle (Cynthia Erivo)) who attempt to pull off a heist originally planned by their now deceased husbands, set against the backdrop of an election for the alderman of Chicago's 18th Ward, contested by Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), Widows is pure pulp, albeit pulp with something on its mind. McQueen's first genre film, he approaches it with the same seriousness with which he approached political protest, sexual addiction, and slavery. Obviously not especially interested in making what he sees as a generic crime thriller about bereft women taking matters into their own hands (which is about as political as the original series got), he and Flynn use the material as a vehicle for a racially-tinted critique of both powerful men (who are mainly, but not exclusively, white) and the corrupt systems that enable them. By creating a canvas depicting life at various social strata in Chicago - from the inherited white privilege of Jack to the materialistic social trappings so important to Veronica, from the poor black neighbourhoods of Jamal to the "everything is a transaction" philosophy of high-powered real-estate - the film attempts to address a plethora of racial, political, and gender issues.And herein lies one of the film's biggest problems. Rather than trying to deal with one or two core issues with something resembling thoroughness, it instead tries to deal with upwards of about seven, and ends up saying little of relevance about any. There's gender, economics, politics, racism, police corruption, prostitution, gun culture, materialism, etc. It often feels as if McQueen and Flynn were simply throwing ideas against a wall to see what stuck, especially when you consider just how little attention some of these themes receive, making you wonder why they're there at all. Gun culture, for example, is really only addressed when Alice is assigned the task of buying the team's weapons. Asking where she is supposed to go to get guns, she is told simply and unironically, "this is America", a wink-and-a-nod point which relies almost entirely on the audience's left-leaning political affiliations. Another example is racially-motivated police homicide. Several years prior to the film, Veronica and Harry's (Liam Neeson) teenage son, Marcus (Josiah Sheffie), was shot and killed by a white police officer at a routine traffic stop. And that's about it. Marcus does factor into the film's big twist (kind of), but the racial overtones of his killing are never brought up again, and it remains unclear what McQueen is trying to say with this underdeveloped subplot. And ultimately, with so much thematic material competing for attention, much of it disconnected from the containing narrative, it's hard to focus.Which is not to say, of course, that none of the film's themes are foregrounded. Gender, for example, is built into the plot, especially in relation to notions of subverting the patriarchal status quo. As they prepare the heist, Veronica tells the team that their greatest strength is the element of surprise, because "no one thinks we have the b---s to pull this off". Later, she reminds them they have "to look and move like a team of men". Whilst on the heist itself, they have to disguise their voices so no one realises they are women. Similarly front-and-centre is the theme of race relations, something introduced in the opening frames - an above-the-bed shot of Harry and Veronica engaged in some very heavy petting. Whilst promoting the film, Viola Davis has spoken a lot about how unusual it is to open a film with an interracial pseudo-sex scene, and she's right about that; even in a world which celebrates something like Jeff Nichols's Loving (2016) can get made, interracial couples are still relatively rare on-screen, especially sexually active older couples (speaking at a Q&A screening of the film in LA, Davis said, "I don't care how much people say they're committed to inclusivity - they're not committed to that; the opening shot in this movie where you have a dark-skinned woman with a big nose and wide lips and all of that, and her natural hair, kissing - romantically kissing a white man onscreen").Another excellent shot that carries huge thematic importance, this time in relation to city-wide macroeconomics, can be seen when Jack and his assistant, Siobhan (Molly Kunz), travel from a poor black neighbourhood to the affluent white suburb in which his campaign headquarters is situated. Filmed in one of McQueen's patented single-takes, what's especially interesting here is that after Farrell and Kunz get into the car, we can hear them, but we can't see them - Sean Bobbitt's camera remains fixed on the bonnet, with only a portion of the windshield and one of the side-mirrors visible. Meanwhile, we see the city rapidly change in real-time in the background, taking only a couple of minutes to go from skid row to millionaire's row. McQueen's unusual camera placement forces the audience to acknowledge just how thin the line is, geographically speaking, between rich and poor (recalling that great quote from Bubbles (Andre Royo) in The Wire (2002); "thin line between heaven an' here"). At the same time, of course, the ideological divide is massive.For me though, the whole thing was underwhelming and predictable, with a twist that's as ridiculous as they come, and a narrative that relies far too much on coincidence and movie-logic. The widows need to disguise their voices on the job? Good thing that Belle's daughter has a gizmo that does exactly that! A highly successful modern-day thief who writes everything down longhand? A team of people (irrespective of gender and race) who become experts in something as complex as pulling off a major heist in a matter of weeks (what is this, Battlefield Earth (2000))? For all its real-world social and political concerns, I never once bought into the central premise, that these four women could actually pull this off, and that undermines everything else. Much as David Simon has always argued The Wire was about the quintessential American City, McQueen is here attempting to tell a story much larger than the sum of its parts. However, unlike the Baltimore of The Wire (or the LA of Heat), McQueen's Chicago doesn't feel lived in (as opposed to say, Michael Mann's depiction of the same city in Thief (1981)); it feels like someone's idea of a city rather than an actual depiction of that city.Just because a film addresses certain themes doesn't mean it earns a free pass ("look, Hollywood cares about poor people; we better not criticise the ridiculous plot"), and from a narrative standpoint, Widows is pretty ludicrous. With the plot often feeling contorted to support the themes, rather than the themes arising from the plot, McQueen's didactic and polemic concerns seem to have overridden his abilities as a storyteller. More a vehicle for protestation than anything else, that it tries to cover so many topics makes the whole experience emotionless, as if the filmmakers were dispassionately working off a checklist of issues on which to touch, rather than allowing the plot to organically lead into those issues. As I mentioned above, for this kind of film to work, the central heist narrative must be able to stand on its own, and this one most definitely cannot, which works to flatten and neuter the very real criticisms that the film is so concerned with enunciating. The socio-political commentary, for the most part, is never really integrated into the narrative - so you end up with a film that feels like its preaching at you rather than talking to you, light on emotion and dramatic verisimilitude, but top-heavy with moral superiority. If it had embraced its genre a bit more, and eased back on the homiletics, it would have worked much better, not just as a genre exercise, but, perhaps more importantly, as political commentary. As it is, it's a very good-looking but unoriginal, and at times, outright dumb movie, that seems to always assume its intellectual ascendency to the audience.

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