Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Jacki Weaver
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…started off looking like a crackerjack thriller ends up being merely alright…
This is a relatively intelligent crime drama, though also a somewhat flawed, uneven and ultimately disappointing one. It hits the ground running with fast-paced footage of a getaway by a bunch of crooks. Given the film’s title, it would scarcely be a spoiler to say that this episode ends in tears. The head of the gang is long-time career robber Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), and his wife Veronica (Viola Davis) is left with the problem of having one month to come up with a million dollars to pay back someone extremely dangerous. Davis’s performance is, incidentally, far and away the most powerful and memorable in the film, notwithstanding a plethora of impressive co-stars including Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall.
What follows is nothing if not convoluted, as the intrigue, menacing behaviour and general nastiness expand to incorporate political chicanery and gang violence. The setting is contemporary Chicago, though the visual style suggests the American cinema of the early Seventies. If anything, there are a few too many characters, but the twists hold our attention. Some of the characters talk too consistently in clever epithets to be believable – though of course that’s a lesser evil than the usual problem of wall-to-wall vacuous dialogue. What works best is the atmospheric cinematography, particularly in the nocturnal and dark interior scenes.
Where Widows really falls down is in its plot, which becomes altogether too far-fetched – not to mention sentimental – towards the end. What started off looking like a crackerjack thriller ends up being merely alright.