R Dir: Steve McQueen | Twentieth Century Fox | 2h 8min
Plot: What’s it about?
While I wasn’t expecting much at all from Widows, I did expect it to become a massive hit with critics and audiences. It just seems like one of those films that tends to get endless praise. While it certainly received the praise, it wasn’t quite the box office champ that at least I expected. Honestly, it’s hard to see what the fuss is all about. Outside of featuring women in the leading roles in a sort of film where men dominate, it does nothing to stand out among its peers. It isn’t a total loss as it has moments that shine, but it can’t help but feel like a bloated misfire. It also has at least one big plot twist that most casual viewers will see coming a mile away. The very casting in the role is the first clear tip off, but I won’t say more.
Directed by Steve McQueen, who made a name for himself with 12 Years a Slave, Widows has a lot going on, but can safely be called a heist film of sorts. There’s a robbery that goes wrong and Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and his entire crew are killed. Harry’s widow, Veronica (Viola Davis) learns that Harry stole $2 million from an important political figure and he demands that she return the money. Here’s the catch: the money burned up in the explosion of the robbery. Veronica then seeks out the other widows of the other gang members to pull off a heist to repay the money. She uses a heist plan that Harry had left behind. The film features performances from Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Michelle Rodriguez and many others, including Liam Neeson in his small role.
It’s certainly a clever and well thought out premise, but Widows didn’t grasp me quite like I thought it would. Or should, dare I say. With so much talent on screen, it’s surprisingly that the film falls flat a number of times. On one hand I can appreciate the more vulnerable characters and being female as well does add to that, but this isn’t what I want from a thriller of this sort. It can be tense at times and somewhat unpredictable despite that obvious plot twist I mentioned earlier. I just couldn’t find myself caring at all about the characters or the outcome. I do appreciate the threat of some of the characters here as they’re more than a little imposing, which does make the central dilemma all the more serious. I also appreciate the few touches of humor scattered throughout the film. It does tend to offset the more serious nature of the main plot. It just doesn’t add up to a whole lot. It has its moments, but I’ll return to better heist films before watching Widows again.
Video: How’s it look?
There’s something about films set in Chicago. I don’t really know what it is, but there seems to be a particular tone or feel with films that take place in the “Windy City.” Widows seems to have this and it’s part of what sets the mood. Fox’s 2;39:1 HEVC 4K image pulls no punches when it comes to detail and the added benefit of HDR doesn’t hurt. The movie seems to have a very organic feel to it, juxtaposed with an industrial feel of a crime movie. I realize that might not make any sense, but it’s the best way I could describe it. Suffice it to say that viewers should be amply-pleased with the results here, regardless of viewing the 4K or Blu-ray.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are two benefits to the 4K version. The HDR is one and the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is the other. While not a night and day difference between this and the DTS HD Master Audio found on the Blu-ray (Fox, seriously, put Atmos tracks on Blu-ray) there is an uptick in a few key scenes. I felt it more, particularly during the opening sequence. Vocals sound spot on, even Liam Neeson seems to sound a bit better than on most his other films. Surrounds provide a warm atmosphere of ambiance and the LFE even get a few moments in the sun. It’s a surprisingly nice-sounding track, regardless of which audio format you choose.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There are no supplements on the 4K disc, rather they’re all located on the included Blu-ray.
- Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story – The main (and only real) supplement is broken down into three parts and covers the essentials of the film from the casting, shooting locations and how the story came to be from its television roots.
- Plotting The Heist: The Story
- Assembling The Crew: Production
- The Scene Of The Crime: Locations
- Stills Gallery – Like most Fox galleries, these can be played manually or advanced automatically and contain, you guessed it, stills from the film.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
With strong performances from its very impressive cast and a fairly interesting, albeit borrowed plot, Widows works in spurts. The film failed to truly engage me or make me care about the characters. I can appreciate its attempt at doing something different, but the results aren’t always satisfying. It might make for a decent rental, but that’s the strongest I can give it..