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FILM REVIEW: WIDOWS (15)


By Spalding Today Columnist


SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: VIOLA DAVIS, ELIZABETH DEBICKI, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, CYNTHIA ERIVO, COLIN FARRELL, LIAM NEESON, BRIAN TYREE HENRY, DANIEL KALUUYA, JACKI WEAVER, CARRIE COON, MANUEL GARCIA-RULFO, JON BERNTHAL, LUKAS HAAS & ROBERT DUVALL

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 8 MINS

DIRECTOR: STEVE McQUEEN

Ocean’s 8 with a brain!

I know I saw Ocean’s 8 a few months ago and yet for the life of me, I can hardly remember anything about it. I remember the general plot. That is about it.

But that's okay because we now have another film with a similar storyline. The main difference being that this one is much better!

This adaptation of the ‘80s British TV series takes the story overseas to Chicago. It starts off with an incredibly cinematic heist from a group of male criminals lead by Liam Neeson (Taken series). The heist goes wrong and the men end up being killed, which is not a spoiler – the clue’s in the title.

It's up to the grieving wives to pick up the pieces. Their husbands stole a lot of money from a local gangster and he's looking towards the women to get it back or face the deadly consequences.

WIDOWS (15) (5411922)
WIDOWS (15) (5411922)

When I saw the trailer, I thought it looked quite tame for writer/director Steve McQueen. Has the 12 Years A Slave Best Picture Oscar-winner gone for something a little lighter this time round? Nope! There are some truly dark moments here as he impressively extends his Hollywood CV.

Most of these hard-hitting scenes are linked to Daniel Kaluuya from last year’s acclaimed sleeper thriller-horror hit, Get Out. He is one of the best villains I have seen in a long time. But it’s a shame he didn't get a great deal of screen time. Well, not as much as I'd have liked – because when he's around, you know something very bad is about to go down.

As for the female leads, Viola Davis (Oscar-winner for Fences) plays Neeson’s widow, Veronica. Watching her transform from someone that lived in a criminal’s shadow to somebody that can ‘kick-ass’ among the best of them, was mesmerising. In her newly-formed gang – and more than holding their own next to her – are characters played by Michelle Rodriguez (Fast and Furious series), Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from UNCLE) and Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale).

Female lead movies have not been highly praised in recent years. Ocean’s 8 wasn’t great and don’t even get me started on the Ghostbusters reboot. And speaking of which, I recall Paul Feig stating that bad reviews were from male sexist critics – which I guess is easier than admitting you made a bad movie.

I can’t speak for all critics but I certainly don’t give a damn if a movie has an all-female cast. I only care as to whether the movie is good or bad. And this is good. Very good.

It won’t be for everyone though. I think you should go in knowing it’s a slow-burner. It is certainly not the all-out action movie the trailer would have you believe.

But I'm fine with a slow-moving movie as long as the characters are interesting – and it’s well-written and directed.

Fortunately this ticks all those boxes and won’t leave you at a loss.

Rating: 4/5

Mikey Clarke



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