Based on a British miniseries, Widows follows Viola Davis’ Veronica as she and three other woman (Elizabeth Debicki’s Alice, Michelle Rodriguez’s Linda, and Carrie Coon’s Amanda) are forced to put together a heist after their dead (and criminal) spouses leave them with mountains of debt. There’s certainly a lot going on within Widows – the aforementioned plot summary is only one small facet of the movie’s overstuffed narrative – and yet the movie remains unable to accumulate any real momentum or sense of escalation, as filmmaker Steve McQueen, working from a script written with Gillian Flynn, offers up an erratically-paced endeavor that’s at once too long and yet somehow not long enough (ie it feels as though large swaths of the original story have been omitted or, at least, cut down substantially). It’s clear, then, that Widows‘ sporadically watchable vibe is due almost entirely to the efforts of its superb cast, as star Davis delivers a consistently stirring performance that’s matched by an eclectic (yet uniformly talented) roster of periphery players (including Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and Daniel Kaluuya, with the latter turning in an indelible and terrifying turn as a vicious henchman). The narrative’s unevenness does grow more and more problematic, however, and it’s hard to deny that the plot’s more overtly thriller-focused elements don’t fare quite as well as McQueen has intended (ie such moments feel out of place, almost) – which does, in the end, cement Widows‘ place as a disappointing misfire that should’ve, based on its cast list alone, been more than just watchable.

** out of ****

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