SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Steve McQueen's Widows, in theaters now.
Hollywood's love affair with heist movies continues with director Steve McQueen's Widows, based on a screenplay he wrote with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects). The movie focuses on three widows -- Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) -- who must pull off a job to pay off a debt after their bandit husbands burn to death along with a $2 million payday.
However, instead of crafting a by-the-numbers robbery, McQueen takes fans on a journey that's every bit as action-packed as it is emotional. Given the predicament of these widows, this high-stakes film actually ends up being 2018's best heist flick for a few reasons.
THE EMPOWERED CREW
Widows stands out because every move feels like a life-or-death situation for the crew. They're faced with obstacle after obstacle, starting with Veronica's driver being killed by the people they owe money to. As they scramble to make up for this, what ensues is a more violent version of The Italian Job, with these women barely having resources to go through with the mission.
Veronica's husband, Harry (Liam Neeson), the former ringleader, left her nothing, while Alice (who's turned into an escort) and Linda, now a single mother, are struggling to make ends meet. We really connect with and empathize with them, as we watch them transition into bandits for their literal survival.
They quickly learn to shoot, carry money on their backs, case places with a new wheelman and build lists of key players like true professionals. These ladies have nothing to lose, helping them evolve into cerebral criminals not to be underestimated. It's all the more sweet that they're going to rob a corrupt politician to get the money back, shaping them as more vigilantes than thieves.
THE EPIC HEIST
The politician in question is Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), one of Chicago's key political figures. And when they do carry out the heist, it's highly believable as opposed to being a series of fortunate events, a la Ocean's 8. They grind it out using hockey masks, hoodies and voice-boxes, taking over the Mulligan home and cracking the safe open, all catalyzed by Veroncia's blackmailing of Jack's security expert with some incriminating photos of incest.
It shows how simple yet effective a heist can be, especially when the thieves have limited funds at their disposal. What also makes the theft so brilliant is that this is just one hurdle to overcome, because right after they end up killing Jack's father on the way out, they get jacked by Daniel Kaluuya's Jatemme, the brother of the man they owe.
And so, one heist becomes two as they then engage in a high-speed chase to recover their loot. The ever-resilient ladies yet again pull off the mission, killing the biggest gangster in the movie. What makes this even sweeter is that this second heist confirms Veronica's posse are now the baddest gangsters in town.
THE SCARY TWIST
When Veronica goes back to her hideout to divvy up the score, Harry shockingly shows up to steal it. It turns out Harry was hired by Jack to rob Jatemme's brother, Jamal (Jack's political rival), to cripple his campaign. Harry killed his crew and faked his own death, splitting the cash with Jack.
He did leave plans to rob Jack, though, expecting Veronica to sell it to Jamal, who he assumed would want revenge. As fate would have it, his wife is a better robber, and a jealous Harry comes for the $5 million they took, as he wants to elope with the fourth widow in the film, Amanda (Carrie Coon). But it's not just a sinister twist with a rift created out of thin air.
We find out Harry and Veronica fell apart when their son was killed as a result of police brutality. This led to racial tensions between the couple, with both parents blaming each other's ethnicity. Thus, we get a legit reason for Harry to betray her, as she also felt this was their karma for Harry's criminal career. But after brutally beating her, Harry's killed by Veronica, who then frames him for killing Jack's dad, proving she was always stronger than he gave her credit for; something she realized thanks to her new sisterhood.
Widows, in theaters now, stars Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal and Colin Farrell.