Kelly Wants to Like Widows (2018)!

Widows 003Rating: B-

Summary: Just days after her husband (Liam Neeson) is killed during a heist job, Veronica (Viola Davis) is saddled with his debts and chooses to follow his lead.

Part political drama, part heist, part actor’s piece, 100% women’s empowerment, Widows is director Steve McQueen’s dramatic take on a heist movie that is centered around two politicians, Mulligan and Manning (Colin Farrell and Bryan Tyree Henry aka Paperboi), set on ruining the other’s campaign by robbing the crap out of each other. While robbing Manning in the name of Mulligan, Neeson is killed and Manning pins his acts on his wife, Veronica. Veronica then chooses to round up he other widows whose husbands were also killed, to carry out Neeson’s last planned robbery.

This could have been better. I really want to like this movie. It’s like Baby Driver if all the cars were replaced by actors- the cast does a lot with little and they are the best part of the movie. (I won’t lie- I saw the trailer and I was pretty much on board based on the names Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Paperboi, and Cynthia Erivo.) But when I left and all that shine was gone- dude. I have never left a theater for a crime, heist, or thriller flick asking as many questions as I did with Widows.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be liked here- the cast, certain shots (especially the tracking), the jokes, the subtle commentary on gender and class and race and all that. I liked that- for the most part- the primary concern of the widows wasn’t falling in love or the lack of a partner, but really the maintenance of their lifestyle and still pursuing what else made them happy and successful. And dear god, the foreshadowing. There are so many little hints and drops here so that the twists are genuinely surprising but also fit into place. The process of watching this movie was a lot of fun, especially the set up and character introductions in the first act.

That first act is so good, you gladly hang out for the rest of ride. Honestly, it wasn’t until after leaving that I realized I had a ton of questions. If you couldn’t tell, I cannot, for the life of me, stop referring to the characters by their real-life names with the exception of Paperboi- and that’s Bryan Tyree Henry’s character on Atlanta. And for a pretty vast ensemble cast, they simultaneously spend too much time and too little time on anyone that’s not Davis- some of the characters that they spend a lot of time on have little to no closure at the end, but we do get results for some of the more underdeveloped characters.

Widows 001

With all of those supporting members, it just opens up the story a lot more and leaves a ton of plot holes scattered throughout. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I’ll just say that the story leaves a lot to be desired. Half of the character set up isn’t touched on again by the end. I’m not sure how Neeson is in cahoots with Mulligan or… what he did for a living before all of that, being married to a prominent figure in the teacher’s union… or how the math of the debt works out… or how robbing one and then robbing another makes any sort of sense or how… Neeson would have pulled off a heist by himself or…. why Mulligan’s father says he’s leaving but lives in the campaign house… or what’s in the box!? Really! That’s not a reference! There’s a box and why? Why does it matter? I have a feeling that this movie was supposed to be maybe three hours and they were forced to cut it down to two hours and ten minutes.

There are a lot of side characters that genuinely don’t need so much screen time and they’re also not fun or interesting side characters where the time devoted to them is worth it, with the exception being Kaluuya. I think, perhaps, Widows would have benefitted from cutting out a lot of the extraneous material that didn’t revolve around Davis’ Veronica and Neeson’s character (whatever his name is). The meat of the movie is really between these two, the history of their marriage, and Davis’ handling of grief. There are some truly golden moments in their storyline that are handled really well. If it hadn’t gotten carried away in the side quests, this would have had a much stronger and concise foundation. I want to like this movie. Someone make an edit!

4 thoughts on “Kelly Wants to Like Widows (2018)!

  1. Great review!
    I liked how this movie didn’t answer a lot of questions for you. I think it allows for more interpretation which is more exciting. I know heist movies are usually more about action and cause/effect but we knew this movie would be completely unique when we saw it right?
    I also thought every side character’s story was worthwhile. I agree that Davis and Neeson’s chemistry was the most compelling and interesting, but I found every side character worthwhile as well. Chicago seemed like a side character in this movie that was paid homage to through these other storylines.
    Maybe I would have thought differently about the minor storylines if the actors weren’t so DAMN GOOD. Colin Farrell was great here (Or maybe he wasn’t and I just generally like his roles? I can’t tell anymore).
    Also, I don’t even remember what box you’re talking about which concerns me.


    1. Thanks for stopping in! I’ve been wanting to discuss this but try to keep too many spoilers out of reviews. I like what the movie tried to do with it’s characters- I’m just not sure how successful it was in completing the arcs it set out for itself, aside from Ronnie and Daniel Kaluuya. I’m a huge fan of grey characters as well as side characters as they add lots of dynamics especially for this kind of cast. I love the women empowerment message but I think a few more moments with Michelle Rodriguez in the beginning might have helped as well as Elizabeth Debicki’s at the end- like did she just fall back into a circular pattern that tends to come with domestic abuse and the type of men she was shown with? Along with that, it was really odd that Cynthia Erivo had one of the fuller arcs when she wasn’t originally a part of that core group and that Carrie Coon was and she received little to no screen time.

      The box was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it that I caught onto and I think it might have played a much larger role than the time allowed- in the flashback with the son, he’s on the phone- presumably with Neeson- he’s arguing about making a u-turn to bring a small box home- the same u-turn that gets him pulled over and then when he puts it back in the glovebox, shot. I believe the box contained the flask that Neeson’s character is shown with and the one Ronnie spots in the other woman’s apartment. This is just one of those visual cues that would have brought another layer to his and Ronnie’s relationship. Maybe a deleted scene will show this.

      I love fan theory and speculating about what character motive might be but there is a fine line between fan theory and straight up plot holes. I’ll say that box is a fun fan theory but I really want to know what Neeson’s plan was in performing this heist solo. It’s kind of like Westworld- they got caught up in providing lots of twists over the finer details.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had the same problem with spoilers in my initial comment so I feel your pain.
        Honestly I don’t know if another few scenes with Michelle Rodriguez would have done anything except make the movie longer
        than it needed to be. I think I feel that way because she used every moment of screen time she had well. We saw her as betrayed, heartbroken, lonely, strong and eventually redeemed. That to me is more than enough.
        I think it’s safe to assume Debicki doesn’t continue that cycle considering she told Viola she wouldn’t stand for someone treating her badly again. True she didn’t say this directly to that architect dude but we damn sure never see him again.
        I’m pretty sure that box was an engagement gift from Neeson to Davis… I remember it being a Cartier box and their son responding to Neeson asking him to come home because her engagement gift was in the car. I could be wrong though.
        I don’t think Neeson ever intended to pull off the heist solo. Why would he give Viola the instructions if he had?


      2. The heist- I get that he was banking on the book to be sold to Manning so he could rob Mulligan… but… then… did he just decide that because she did it he could take the money? Was he planning on getting it from Mulligan after? What happened to that $2 million, why does Mulligan want more, and why does it matter? Why even pretend that he’s going to pay off the debt instead of just go straight into hiding if Mulligan is so currupt that he can’t be bothered to go after him anyway?

        Liked by 1 person

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