A taut, stylish heist movie spotlighting destinies of gender and race in the U.S., Widows is the kind of movie I'd forgotten they still make for adults. Contrasted with multiverse fantasies like Crimes of Grindelwald, Widows is proof you can have several characters as vivid, substantial, and delicately drawn, while the action and the tension pulls you into its swirling, river-like flow.
The premise is immediately of the sit-up-and-notice variety: a crew of bank heist blokes see their robbery go wrong, leaving a disparate ensemble of widows to face up to past debts previously never told to them. Already, we are a level above the so-so Ocean's 8 (and for that matter, Oceans 11), where privileged, confident superstars commit theft for the fun of it.
The performances will mesmerize and startle you: Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out!, 2017) plays the insidious hitman of a local gangster-turned-politician, switching effortlessly like a living, breathing id, from psychopathic to blankly indifferent to sadistically amusing with the switches of his inner dial. Colin Farrell is the believably complex not-quite-as-racist-as-his-father, a new generation of politician who recoils at his father's cynicism and use of n-word expletives, but nevertheless lives and breathes a more invisible kind of white supremacy, with tokenistic projects and self-congratulating rhetoric that keep local, largely African-American communities in their place. But the real stars are the widows who have to enter a dark new world of violence and fear if they are to survive: Viola Davis as the highly strung leader, Michelle Rodriguez trying to balance a young family with facing oblivion, Cynthia Erivo as the gis-a-job driver and, in terms of arc perhaps the most poignant of all, Elizabeth Debicki's victim of domestic abuse, starting the film with zero self-esteem, and ending it as one of its champions.
Widows, in short, is an action film for adults, of gorgeous cinematography and a foot-tapping Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Watch it for its pace, its nuance, its style, and for the single moment when I – and half the audience – jumped out of our seats in shock. But basically, just watch it.