Thursday, December 13, 2018

Widows (2018)

There’s a scene in Ratatouille where Linguine tries to improve a soup by adding every ingredient within reach.  Fortunately, he had Remy to help correct this mistake.  When I saw Widows, it seemed like the writers were adding all manner of plot elements.  The movie starts with a robbery gone bad.  There are two candidates for alderman of Chicago’s 18th Ward, both corrupt in their own way, one of which was the victim of said robbery.  He compels the widow of the lead robber to steal his money back, leading to a group of novices trying to do a job of their own.  Add to this plot elements like racism, religion, grief, sexism, betrayal and loss and the movie seems like it’s trying to do too much.

I later found out that the movie is based on a British miniseries.  I think a better cooking analogy might be a reduction.  It looks like the movie is trying to retain as many elements from the source material as it can without sacrificing the basic story.  There’s just enough of each side story to get the idea.

This is one of those movies where the trailers don’t quite do the full film justice.  That can be forgiven, as there are several plot twists.  (No, I’m not going to give them away.)  the basic story is about what you would expect.    Harry Rawlings is the leader of the pro heist crew.  After they pull in to their hideout, the police shoot up their van, killing all four people.

Jamal Manning pays a visit to Harry’s widow, Veronica.  Jamal was Harry’s victim.  It turns out that the cash went up in flames when the van was destroyed.  That money was supposed to finance his campaign for alderman.  Jamal gives Veronica one month to get back his $2,000,000.

Apparently, selling assets isn’t as simple as Jamal would make it out to be.  Instead, she recruits two of the other widows to help her carry out what would have been Harry’s last job.  They have plans, but aren’t really clear on key details, like where the actual vault is.  They do have the resources to find out, though.  If successful, they would be able to repay Jamal and keep about a million each.

Of course, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.  Veronica is the only one with any motivation, considering she’s the only one Jamal seems to know about.  She does have the ability to give him the names of the other two widows, which serves as leverage.  However, one of the other widows isn‘t too bright and the other has other obligations to worry about.  Veronica doesn’t have a crack team at her disposal.

I’m kind of on the fence about this movie.  I came out of the theater entertained, but it’s not a movie that has any nice people in it.  Both candidates for alderman are not in it for the people, despite appearances.  Jamal is a preacher who is in the race for the money.  When his brother points out that the church makes more money, Jamal tells his brother about all of the kickbacks he could get handing out lucrative projects.  Jack Mulligan, the other candidate, is already doing just that.  He has a project that ostensibly empowers minority women, but takes a cut of their business in return.

There were so many side stories going on that it seemed like the movie was trying to do too much.  There’s one thread about Harry and Veronica losing their son, which seemed unnecessary.  I can see where it would have been better in the miniseries, as it could have been explored in depth.  Here, it felt like it only served to add tension, which could have been done in less-conspicuous ways.  I think for a lot of people, this is going to be a movie to watch at home.

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