Widows – Film Review

Liam Neeson leads a criminal gang as they steal a large cash amount from a local rival. Within minutes of the film opening Neeson and friends die in a spectacular showdown with the police that takes their illicit haul down with them. Following his death, Neeson’s widow Veronica (Viola Davis) finds herself not just losing a husband but inheriting the $2 million debt he incurred by dying mid-heist. After uncovering her late husband’s plans for another, bigger heist Veronica assembles her fellow widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) to do what their husbands were too deceased to finish.

If the above sounds less like a Steve McQueen film and more like the plot of a Lynda La Plante series then you’d be right; McQueen and co-writer Gillian Flynn adapted their screenplay from La Plante’s 1983 ITV series. The action has been moved from England to Chicago but Flynn’s experience in writing twisty thrillers means the criminal nature of the film is left intact. What McQueen has brought to proceedings is a clever focus on racial inequality in North America and cynical white politicians who try to exploit them. This mix of generic crime drama with something more meaningful elevates the script above its genre mates.

As a director McQueen absolutely excels. From the opening sequence of machismo-driven “romantic” moments intercut with the explosive events that lead to our titular widows earning their name, we are treated to a film made by a man with an eye for detail. With a simple pan of his camera McQueen can play with dialogue and make subtle revelations about the nature of his characters. McQueen has brought Widows a long way from early 80s ITV but there are moments when the necessities of plot come barging in and exposition ruins an otherwise prefect composition. It is the more traditional elements of Widows that holds it back from being a McQueen classic but equally I can see it becoming a modern crime staple.

Viola Davis is an absolute star in the lead role. She holds the film together through her steely determination as she plays a woman who is both strong and falling apart internally. Outside of the widows are a large cast of fine actors keeping the surrounding plot rolling on while Davis, Rodriquez, and Debicki give us our reason to keep caring.

LFF 2018 Day 1 – Widows

Today marks the opening of this year’s BFI London Film Festival. From today until 21st October cinemas across London will be screening the latest and greatest that cinema has to offer (and a few duds no doubt too). The festival opens tonight with visionary director, and LFF regular, Steve McQueen’s latest Widows.

Widows


Liam Neeson leads a criminal gang as they steal a large cash amount from a local rival. Within minutes of the film opening Neeson and friends die in a spectacular showdown with the police that takes their illicit haul down with them. Following his death, Neeson’s widow Veronica (Viola Davis) finds herself not just losing a husband but inheriting the $2 million debt he incurred by dying mid-heist. After uncovering her late husband’s plans for another, bigger heist Veronica assembles her fellow widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) to do what their husbands were too deceased to finish.

If the above sounds less like a Steve McQueen film and more like the plot of a Lynda La Plante series then you’d be right; McQueen and co-writer Gillian Flynn adapted their screenplay from La Plante’s 1983 ITV series. The action has been moved from England to Chicago but Flynn’s experience in writing twisty thrillers means the criminal nature of the film is left intact. What McQueen has brought to proceedings is a clever focus on racial inequality in North America and cynical white politicians who try to exploit them. This mix of generic crime drama with something more meaningful elevates the script above its genre mates.

As a director McQueen absolutely excels. From the opening sequence of machismo-driven “romantic” moments intercut with the explosive events that lead to our titular widows earning their name, we are treated to a film made by a man with an eye for detail. With a simple pan of his camera McQueen can play with dialogue and make subtle revelations about the nature of his characters. McQueen has brought Widows a long way from early 80s ITV but there are moments when the necessities of plot come barging in and exposition ruins an otherwise prefect composition. It is the more traditional elements of Widows that holds it back from being a McQueen classic but equally I can see it becoming a modern crime staple.

Viola Davis is an absolute star in the lead role. She holds the film together through her steely determination as she plays a woman who is both strong and falling apart internally. Outside of the widows are a large cast of fine actors keeping the surrounding plot rolling on while Davis, Rodriquez, and Debicki give us our reason to keep caring.

Widows screens at the festival on 10th, 11th, and 12th October before being released in the UK on 6th November.

Unknown – DVD Review

Film
After the giddy excitement of Taken in which Liam Neeson walked everywhere and killed everyone in pursuit of his kidnapped daughter, I was excited to see his latest outing as an action hero in Unknown. Sadly it was about as disappointing as Neeson’s brief appearance in The Next Three Days. The entire film can be summed up by the tweet below:

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The Next Three Days – Review

I saw The Next Three Days a few months back but was so uninspired that it’s only now that it is coming out that I can be bothered to review it.

What we have here is a dull, implausible thriller(?) that follows a teacher trying to free his wife from prison after she is arrested for murder. Russell Crowe is passable as the teacher in distress but can’t quite convince that this regular Joe is capable of breaking anyone out of anywhere.

As the wife in question, Elizabeth Banks does a good job of playing an ambiguous character as I was never quite convinced of her innocence. This ambiguity did however stop me from rooting for Crowe as I’d rather his possible homicidal wife stayed in prison.

The film does feature plenty of failures along Crowe’s journey to freeing his wife, an attempt to ground the fanciful film in realism that mostly succeeds in making the movie overly long and downright boring.

If you were thinking that despite all these flaws you still want to see the film for a bit of Liam Neeson or Olivia Wilde then you will be disappointed. Both are completely underused and their roles have very specific plot devices to perform. Neither character is developed but covers a plot hole and nothing more.

Reviews seem positive for The Next Three Days but in reality it is a dull, over-long and ridiculous thriller.

More A-Listers Join the Small Screen

As if Dustin Hoffman wasn’t enough, American TV is getting even more critically acclaimed acting folk to give up lots of movie-making time.

Laura Linney is taking on the lead role in The Big C on Showtime starting next month. She plays a wife and mother who finds out she has cancer and unravels in a funny way. It’s like Breaking Bad less crystal meth and sadness.

But that’s not all, The Big C also has Oliver Platt and Gabourey Sidibe amongst it’s cast and as of yesterday they got…. Liam Neeson!

American acotars are starting to see TV as some British actors do, just another medium but not necessarily a lesser one. Have a look at the trailer if you’ve got a few minutes, it doesn’t look terrible: