American films

Widows film review: heist thriller by 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen stars Viola Davis

  • When a Chicago crime gang are killed mid-robbery, the men’s widows get together to carry out the next heist
  • Viola Davis plays the iron-willed Veronica in an adrenaline-fuelled film where the men, including Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell, play supporting roles
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 8:01pm

4.5/5 stars

Steve McQueen returns, five years after his Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave , with this adrenaline-fuelled contemporary thriller, adapted by the British director and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn from a 1980s TV series by Linda LaPlante.

Widows’ star-studded cast outshone by fresh-faced Australian

Widows stars Viola Davis as the iron-willed Veronica, left alone when her Chicago-based career-criminal husband Harry (Liam Neeson) and his gang are killed mid-robbery.

Threatened by a shady politician whose campaign funds went up in flames during the heist, Veronica gathers together the gang’s other widows – Linda (Michelle Rodiguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) – to carry out Harry’s next robbery.

“No one thinks we have the balls to pull this off,” says Veronica, who plans to pay off the politico and split the remainder. Where do they get guns? “It’s America,” she says, witheringly.

Rendered with real pace and power, the film weaves sexual, racial and social politics into a gripping, muscular story. Following the twists of LaPlante’s original narrative, McQueen smartly depicts a world where betrayal and corruption are rife.

It’s also a story that emphasises the haves and the have-nots, symbolised in one sweeping shot with the camera mounted on a car bonnet as it travels through Chicago’s wards.

The cast is excellent, particularly Davis and Cynthia Erivo, who plays the resourceful child-minder the “widows” hire as their driver. It’s refreshing to see the men in support, though everyone – from Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell as father/son local officials to Daniel Kaluuya’s gangster – brings their A-game.

Widows is a provocative, pulse-racing piece of work.

Widows opens on December 6

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