The Reel Review
When a group of robbers are killed in a failed heist, their widows decide to work together on a subsequent heist to pay off a crooked Chicago politician and secure their own freedom. That is the gist behind this ridiculously convoluted, twist-filled screenplay co-written by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), based on a popular 1983 British TV series. As usual, Viola Davis commands every scene she is in, along with standout performances from Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale) and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Sicario). But despite having a cast impressive both in its caliber and sheer size, the story itself is a bit of a bloated, pretentious mess, as it squanders its first hour with tedious tales of widowhood woe and rampant Chicago political corruption. Even the eventual finale is a bit of a hokey, cliché-filled let down. While the film does have its bright spots, the sum of its many, many, many parts just doesn’t add up to its whole, making what could have been a fun popcorn matinee a phony, heavy-handed and way too long film that could have used a little less talk and a lot more action.
• This is Steve McQueen’s first film since his 2013 Best Picture Oscar winner, 12 Years a Slave, and his first film without actor Michael Fassbender
• Linda La Plante’s 1983 TV Series, Widows, had an astounding 18 million viewers in the UK, virtually unheard of for an unknown writer and cast
• McQueen says those slaps between Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debecki in that one scene were the real deal – ouch!