THE REEL: 'Widows' a heist movie with a difference

Tuesday March 5 2019

Actress Viola Davis is one of the stars of  'Widows'. PHOTO | AFP

Actress Viola Davis is one of the stars of 'Widows'. PHOTO | AFP 

More by this Author

What do you do when the love of your life and the sole breadwinner of the family dies suddenly?

When your whole life is disrupted and shattered at an instant? This is the question that the movie Widows (2018) answers in a spectacular fashion.

With a star-studded cast that includes the indomitable Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, Robert Duval, Bryan Tyree Henry amongst others, the movie draws on the particular talents of each of these great actors to deliver a good performance.

The movie is directed by Steve McQueen who also directed the Oscar winning, 12 Years A Slave.

It is 130 minutes long and it is Rated R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content or nudity. It is based in Chicago and covers the genres of crime, drama and a thriller.


Widows is a heist movie in the tradition of other long line of heist movies such as The Bank Job, The Fast Five and The Oceans series amongst others. This one has an all-girls crew, making it very interesting and unique!

It is set apart from the other heist movies also because it adds a lot more in terms of emotions, nuance, and the proverbial twist in the tale.

The movie is about three women who become widows when their husbands who are thieves are killed during a heist and the wives are confronted with a debt that they have to repay, failure to which, they will suffer devastating consequences.

This is an all too familiar scenario for real life widows. The fabric of their lives as they know it is torn apart and all that their husbands were into becomes revealed in black and white.

They are vulnerable and exposed and have to quickly adapt to their new lives.


Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings is the principal character in the movie and as always she doesn’t disappoint.

She delivers a stunning performance, capturing the emotions of loss, betrayal and a personal determination to overcome the cards that have been dealt to her.

She doesn’t suffer any fools gladly and will certainly whip the all-girl crew into shape by the force of her will.

It has been a while since I last saw Colin Farrell in a movie. Back in the day, he was a heartthrob and made the girls swoon.

He gives a good performance as a politician, Jack Mulligan who is forced into politics by an ailing father, Tom Mulligan played by Robert Duval, to ensure that they don’t lose the political seat that has been held in the family for a long time.

Viewers will identify with the emotional angst that a son goes through trying to live up to a father’s expectations while at the same time wrestling with his own identity and trying to forge his own path.

I realised while watching this movie that I wasn’t ready for a ruthless Daniel Kaluuya. From being the victim of a psycho family in Get Out and as W'Kabi, the head of security and right-hand man to T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), in Black Panther, that is the Kaluuya that I’m familiar with.

In Widows however, Kaluuya breaks this mould expertly with his character Jatemme Manning, a ruthless gangster and a younger brother to Jamal Manning, played by Bryan Tyree Henry who is the political nemesis of Jack Mulligan.

Jatemme will go to any lengths to protect his criminal empire, his hands getting blood stained in the process.

The relationship between Veronica and Harry Rawlings played by Liam Neeson is the focal point of the movie. It sets the tone for what transpires throughout and it is the fuel that ignites Veronica to act in a way that she previously didn’t know she could.

Harry as the leader of his four man crew is tactical but his greed destroys him and other innocent people.

The all-girls heist crew give a commanding performance. The movie twist is very good. It’s said that when a woman wants something, no one can stand in her way and this movie certainly proves it.

It takes brains, guts and heart to plan a heist and execute it perfectly, especially for amateurs.

What the movie teaches is that, when the stakes are high, a person will summon strength and the will to overcome any challenges thrown at them. Widows certainly proves that.