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Widows Review - An Exceptional Whodunnit Thriller with Palpable Intrigue

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Widows, from 20th Century Fox, presents a fast moving political action thriller, set in contemporary Chicago, laced with corruption, intrigue, suspense, built around three avenging women left penniless after a heist gone bad leaves them widowed.

Directed and co-written by Steve McQueen, Widows stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynithia Erivo, with Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Eric C Lynch, Garret Dillahunt, along with Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Coburn Goss, Molly Kunz, Jon Michael Hall, jacki Weaver and Lukas Haas.

The film begins with Veronica Rawlings, played by Viola Davis, and her husband, Harry Rawlings, played by Liam Neeson, in bed. In an instant the scene switches to the heist and Harry is running across the sidewalk with two heavy bags, his team is piling into the van, chased by thugs with weapons. Next instant we are back at the apartment with Harry in the shower.

Another flash and we see the final moments of the heist, Chicago PD open fire with such intensity, the van explodes in a fiery ball.


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Widows flashes back to the present and the exterior of a campaign headquarters of Jamal Manning, played by Brain Tyree Henry, whose running for 18th Ward Alderman, a position held for 60 years by members of the Mulligan Family. Retiring Tom Mulligan played by Robert Duvall is spearheading the campaign for his son, Jack, played by Colin Farrell.

Today, Jack is explaining to Jamel, based clearly on the polls and of course his families long history of leadership in this community, its time to concede. Save yourself some money and time. The polite conversation is the adversarial circling of two determined champions.

When Jack Mulligan leaves we met Jamal’s muscle, his brother Jatemme Manning, played by Daniel Kaluuya, who enforces the neighborhood rules, sells its residents assuredness of their safety and protection from their enemies.

The 18th Ward Alderman position works for an impoverished people, whose expectation of growth is limited to their surroundings, which makes the padded incentive program just another lucrative perk of the position.

Harry Rawlings was working for the highest bidder. With more than three decades of Robin Hood robberies, this time the rich he lifted from was going to fund the Manning’s campaign. Disintegrated money has no value.

With no insurance policy Jamel pays a visit to Veronica. In polite hood language Jamel explains she has one month to liquidate and come up with the cash. The implications are clear and she understands the seriousness of his threat.

As often happens the widow is left alone and responsible for hidden aspects of her husbands life. Veronica is given access to a safety deposit box Harry kept. The contents appear to be the only solution. She calls the widows of Harry’s team who all perished in the explosion and arranges a meeting.

The second act of Widows showcases a group of fearless, angry, tired, marginalized women who decide they have had enough.

I really enjoyed Widows. Every aspect of the film could be summed up in a single word: excellent. The ensemble cast, story, direction, location, and details, the nuances of the players, all make for palpable action, conspiracy and tangible drama.

Director Steve McQueen and of course team haven’t overlooked one detail in creating each element of the story. It is an exceptional script a modern Chicago, complete with historical reference to the political machine that fueled many a man’s election hopes and all the elements necessary to secure the victory along with good old fashioned mystery and intrigue.

Having the opportunity to attended the AFI Gala presentation, the audience reaction, a collective gasp, at key plot points, really sums up the films magnetic attraction.

The audience is pulled into the plots, the conspiracy. Questions throughout the film tug at the viewer; as evil so often wins, and more powerful skilled men have lost in this war, how will our underdogs fare grabs the attention and doesn’t let go.

Most current films don’t need much to ensure the viewer understands the time, although the breakdown of where and the elements of the life are key and solidified early in the film. We understand where we are even if we live on the famed Lake Shore Drive.


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Widows has an excellent cast of well-known faces. The majority of the ensemble could open a film alone, together they bring a depth that creates shades, colors, in delivery across the entire film that gives the audience in nearly every scene a recognizable actor with memorable work.

Widows, with a well-known cast, exceptional story and the unknown aspects of a whodunnit thriller, a crime novel with a defined protagonist, the film has all the characteristics of an extraordinary film. Add the external elements as the self-defined winners bringing on the squeeze, palpable Intrigue and suspense and you have an unexpectedly entertaining film.

Widows opens November 16, 2018. See this film.

 

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