Michael Scott

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Widows


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Movie: :4stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

The basics of a heist movie is one of the staples of cinema. It’s simple, yet strangely complex, and requires a varied group of actors to pull off as the heist usually needs just as many varieties to make a successful robbery go off without a hitch. Someone is the ringleader, someone is the driver, and a few others to fill out the various roles needed to break into a specific location. Then there’s comes the obligatory road block in the way, a nasty villain, and of course the cops hunting you down. Widows is directed and written by Steve McQueen (yes, THAT Steve McQueen) and while it’s a great caper film, it also happens to have the planning and execution of said heist being done by women as the main draw of the film. It’s an excellently done heist movie, but if you look at it objectively, McQueen does a very good job with the nuts and bolts of the film, but those nuts and bolts have been done dozens of times before. The defining characteristic of the movie is that the widows of a group of high class thieves have to pick up where their dead spouses left off.

The opening scene of the film details a heist gone SERIOUSLY wrong. Men are wounded, they barely get out alive, only to have a confrontation with the Chicago city SWAT team causing them to suddenly have their lives extinguished. Fast forward just a little bit and we find out that these group of guys were high class thieves who worked together as a unit. Unfortunately they each left a widow. A widow who now are faced with the uncomfortable realization that they now have to fend for themselves. Veronica (Viola Davis) has the unique problem of being the wife of the ringleader Harry (Liam Neeson), and takes on the even worse situation of Harry and his team’s botched operation being a mobster who happens to be running for public office. Now she has the burden of paying this mobster back the money that was burned up in the resulting firefight that took Harry and his crew’s life.

Veronica figures out that there’s only one way out of this situation. Harry left a notebook with the details for their next big heist. A robbery that would net the crew $5 million. Now all she has to do is complete the job, pay back the money that her husband stole from the mobster, and use the extra few million dollars to start a new life. But she needs a crew to pull it off, and the only people she knows who might be interested as the other women who are in the same situation that she is. The widows of her husband’s crew. Pulling in Linda (Michelle Rodriquez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), the three women come up with a simple idea. Grab the money, get out of dodge, and don’t die doing so.
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As I mentioned, Widows doesn’t technically reinvent the wheel of the heist genre. It’s a pretty straight forward drama with the women trying to nail down all of the technicalities of a heist and getting the job done. The quirks of the movie stem from two things. The first being the women themselves. The three women aren’t hardened criminals like their husbands, they were just married to them. While they each have a set of skills that make them useful, they are forced to improvise on the fly, sometimes with weak results. Then there’s the various subplots of the film. McQueen literally decorates his film with a dozen various sub plots that each act as a character study for the various women. Veronica is still dealing with the death of Harry (which turns into a bombshell later), and Alice is trying to make ends meet by being a high class escort. She’s tortured at the idea of selling herself out for money, but it’s the only thing her socialite mother could teach her in their messed up lives. Linda has to deal with two kids and a vicious mother in law who wants to take them away, and there’s a whole political subterfuge in regards to the crooked politicians who are basically mobsters themselves. It’s complicated, but surprisingly straight forward if you look at things closely.

What Widows lacks in originality, it makes up for character development and a whole host of Crash related sub plots that really tie the film together in the end. For a 130 minute film it flew by incredibly quickly, and there is more than enough depth to the women itself to make the film more than the sum of it’s parts. Liam Neeson and the rest of the men are really only there in flashbacks, but the 4 women (if you include the drive Belle) are intriguing and completely believable as they overcome their personal demons to pull this off. Viola Davis is perfect as the strong willed but secretly vulnerable leader, while Rodriguez and Debicki both are wonderful as the unsure henchmen. The supporting cast of various big name actors like Duvall and Farrell flesh out the film quite a bit and add a greatly “sleazy” air to the people these women are robbing. McQueen has always had an impeccable eye for in depth character studies, and he does a great job of making the film an introspective personal growth story, and a thrilling heist film.




Rating:

Rated R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content/nudity




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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Widows was shot on 35mm film and then transferred to a native 4K digital intermediate, so the jump to 4K from 1080p shows off some very impressive upgrades. Visual clarity and fine detail show noticeable improvement, with every fiber and pore on Viola Davis’s angst wrought face coming through with razor sharp clarity. Even in the dark shadows of the heist and the “base” that the women operate out of showcase some really impressive amount of detail. There’s a glimpse of black crusher, otherwise the use of HDR makes those shadows really pop with extra detailing. Things that were blobs in the shadows on the Blu-ray actually have definition and shape, and the depth of the blacks is startlingly deep. Colors can be very warm in daylight shots (such as Harry’s funeral), and more dim and grim looking (such as the warehouse base the widows operate out of). There is a really strange artifact/anomaly on Viola Davis’s face early on the film when she’s crying about Harry. It’s almost like a halo overlayed on top of the right side of her face, and stands out really starkly against the otherwise clean imagery. It’s a great looking 4K UHD increase, and looks incredibly filmic at that.






Audio: :4.5stars:
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While there is a 7.1 DTS-HD MA track on the Blu-ray, the 4K UHD release gets the upgrade to Dolby Atmos, and while there is some good usage of the overheads (such as during the opening scene explosion), the two tracks are more similar than different. One thing I WILL point out though, the Bass response on the Atmos track seems to be a bit heavier and more forceful, but that might be a placebo effect as the Atmos track is recorded at a higher DB level than the DTS-HD MA track. Vocals are always clean and clear, and the track makes a really nice distinction between hot and heavy action sequences, and the dead silence where the girls are trying to keep their mouths shut during the heist. Surrounds are filled with gunshots, explosions, screeching tires and a wide array of ambient noises indicative of the Chicago urban environment. It’s a near perfect track, that is only brought down from a 5/5 rating due to some front heavy portions of the film.






Extras: :2stars:
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Widows Unmasked: A Chicago Story
- Plotting The Heist: The Story
- Assembling The Crew: Production
- The Scene Of The Crime: Locations
• Gallery






Final Score: :4stars:

Chicago is known for it’s political corruption and staggering crime rates, so having a heist film set in Chicago, dealing with crooked politicians, thieves, and other ne’re do wells is kind of spot on perfect. Widows doesn’t blaze any new trails with the heist genre, but what it DOES do is a makes a fairly complex and well detailed heist caper that doubles as a double cross political drama. Steve McQueen keeps the story tight, the details in depth, and some really good character moments between the widows as they struggle to pull off a heist that their husband’s would have done in their sleeps. It’s tense, slow paced, but captivating from beginning to end. 20th Century Fox’s 4K UHD disc is a great looking/sounding disc (well above it’s 1080p counterpart), with the only real limitation on the release being the mediocre extras. Definitely worth a good watch.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Jon Bernthal, Garrett Dillahunt, Cynthia Erivo
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: Steve McQueen, Gillian Flynn (Screenplay), Lynda La Plante (Story)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish, French, Spanish (Castilian), German, Italian, Czeck, Polish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: R
Runtime: 130 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 5th, 2019






Recommendation: Very Good Watch

 
Last edited:

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I never heard of this but after reading, I am interested. Will check it out. :)
 

Jack

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I have so been wanting to watch this movie. Thanks for the thumbs up.
 
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