Widows 2018 ****

Steve McQueen has something of a reputation as a pretentious film-school type, but Widows is easily his best film, mainly because it’s the first time he’s attempted to tell a story in an entertaining rather than a tortuous way. Here, McQueen dusts off the old 1983 ITV Linda La Plante crime series, adapted by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn, and it’s a slow-burning heist film with some political aspirations. Three widows of hardened thieves join forced when their husbands are killed during a robbery. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debricki. Various factions are searching for missing money, and Davis initiates a heist based on her late husband’s notes. Meanwhile, there’s Colin Farrell as a crooked politician, Robert Duvall as his racist father and Daniel Kaluuya as a psychotic thug and they’re all sniffing around the cash. It takes about two hours of slow-burning menace and social commentary to get to the action, which is swift and undeniably exciting. The political stuff, about how the patriarchy use faked female empowerment news stories to disguise their criminal activity, is sharp and very 2018, but ultimately this is bang-bang cops and robbers stuff, very enjoyable to watch and with some very flashy moments. It can be compared to the great 1996 B movie Set It Off, and that’s high praise for Widows.

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