"An Ugly Display of the Worst in Human Behavior"
WIDOWS is the story of four women who are widowed when their husbands are killed while robbing $2 million from a gang leader and how they engage in a bigger heist to get out of trouble. Despite solid performances, WIDOWS undercuts its thrills with a moody, artsy, morose style, atmosphere, and tone. WIDOWS also has a strong amoral pagan worldview with Anti-Christian content, abundant foul language and other depicted lewd content, sadism, some extreme violence, and an incredibly ugly display of the worst in human behavior.
The movie opens by intercutting scenes of men escaping a robbery in a van and getting chased and shot at by police, with scenes of their married lives. Ultimately, the men engage in a shootout with the police that results in their van exploding, and their four widows are stuck with no money and in utter shock.
Veronica (Viola Davis), the widow of robbery leader Harry (Liam Neeson), learns from her driver that Harry wanted her to have a key to a safe if he died. She finds a notebook that lists all the plans for his past and future heists, but she isn’t sure what to do with this list.
Veronica gets threatened by gang leader Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry), who is running to become a Chicago alderman. Harry robbed the $2 million from Jamal’s him gang, including Jamal’s brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). Jamal gives Veronica a month to find a way to pay back the $2 million since it disappeared during the police showdown that killed her husband.
Meanwhile, a Caucasian man running against Jamal for the alderman position, Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), is under pressure from his retired alderman father, Tom (Robert Duvall), to maintain the family’s decades-long hold on the ward. With Jack driven to hang on to power by any means necessary, the pressure is doubly on the four widows to come together and pull off a $5 million heist that Harry was planning to engage in next, money Harry planned to rob from the Mulligans. If they can rob the $5 million, the widows can pay the $2 million back to Jamal Manning and have getaway money to start new lives.
WIDOWS is co-written by Gillian Flynn, who wrote the brilliantly twisted yet morally debased thriller GONE GIRL a few years back. It has the same tone involving shocking twists among the powerful elite, and solid performances from an impressive cast, but it also has the same sense of utter amorality. There’s no one to truly root for here, because nearly everyone has horrible secrets or engages in amoral behavior to get ahead of everyone else.
Another problem with WIDOWS is that it’s co-written by arty director Steve McQueen of 12 YEARS A SLAVE fame. McQueen and Flynn have placed so much moodiness and “smart” layers upon the storyline and characters that it detracts from the thrills that the movie could and should have had.
Between the unlikable characters and morose tone, as well as a completely excessive level of foul language and some brutal violence. WIDOWS contains more than 115 obscenities and profanities and other depicted lewd content. Also, its strong, amoral pagan worldview includes strong Anti-Christian content, where a black Christian minister is shown to be a total hypocrite. He even negotiates with gang leaders who want to become elected officials about how much money they’ll give him to endorse their candidacy to his congregation.
Taken all together, WIDOWS is one of the more detestable, unacceptable big thrillers in recent years. It has an incredibly ugly display of the worst in human behavior, with backstabbing, doublecrossing, lying, adultery, and more. Even when WIDOWS asks viewers to root for someone, it involves the widows of bad men robbing other bad men, with no real justice resulting in the outcome.
WIDOWS is a violent, morose, artsy crime thriller. The movie opens with scenes of men in a van escaping a robbery of a local gang leader while being chased by police, interspersed with depictions of their married lives. A final shootout with the police results in their van exploding. The men’s four widows are in shock and stuck with no money. The gang leader informs the lead robber’s widow that she now owes him two million dollars. The four women come together to steal five million dollars from a corrupt political family to pay back the gang leader and use the rest as getaway money.
Despite solid performances, WIDOWS undercuts its thrills with a moody, artsy, morose style, atmosphere, and tone. It has a strong amoral pagan worldview with strong Anti-Christian elements. There’s abundant foul language and depicted lewd behavior, some extreme violence, and explicit nudity. WIDOWS is an incredibly ugly display of the worst in human behavior. Even when WIDOWS asks viewers to root for someone, it involves the widows of bad men robbing other bad men, with no real justice.