What do you picture when you hear ‘heist movie’?
Is it a crew of, say, four or five men with fanciful masks telling everyone in the bank to get on the ground?
That’s typically what you’d get in a heist movie.
But that’s not what you’ll find in Widows.
The new film from director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) takes all the heist tropes and turns them on their head.
A group of women – the titular widows – lead the heist and drive the drama in this multi-layered film.
Their husbands were criminals, killed in a job gone wrong at the very start of the movie.
Now, they must complete the next planned job to get a pair of gangsters off their backs.
Widows is based on a 1980s British mini-series of the same name.
The new film moves the action from London to the crime-riddled, politically-corrupt streets of Chicago.
Oscar-winner Viola Davis (The Help) leads the film as a no-nonsense widow struggling to come to terms with her new predicament.
She recruits Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar) and Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from UNCLE) to help carry out the mystery job.
Apart from subverting expectations, Widows is simply a very, very good film.
The performances are spectacular – Davis absolutely leads from the top – and the stacked cast is incredible.
Joining the leads are Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Jacki Weaver, Lukas Haas, Carrie Coon, Jon Bernthal, Brian Tyree Henry, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Garret Dillahunt and a hugely menacing Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).
Flynn (who should be nominated for best adapted screenplay) has worked her magic again with the script and managed to tie in so many topical, social issues – domestic violence, racism, police brutality, small business troubles, political nepotism – into a two-hour heist movie it’s almost hard to keep track. Some of the dialogue is just so brilliant you’ll want to infuse it into your everyday interactions – “we’ve got a lot of work to do, and crying isn’t on the list”.
Widows is the type of movie you don’t see in cinemas every day, and it’s one you shouldn’t let pass you by.