Back in the days of the 80´s, it was pretty usual with TV mini series, that were basically made as a TV series put together as a TV mini series. I remember going to the VHS rental store in my hometown, finding VHS tapes with TV mini series. I did see some of them, even if some of them were not really good. However, there was especially one that i really enjoyed, known as Shogun. Released in 1980, this TV mini series tells the story of Pilot-Major John Blackthorne ( played by legendary actor Richard Chamberlain who is taken as a prisoner by Japanese samurai´s. As he is temporarily released, he is forced to try and find himself with a new perspective on life. Shogun may be 39 years old, but is still today one of the most classic TV mini series from the 80´s. And i have to say that legendary actor Richard Chamberlain did a great job with his performance, and this TV mini series was also well made with great looking costumes. Director Jeremy London clearly had a passion to tell this story, and he must have been inspired by Japanese samurai´s. Perhaps one of my biggest favourite TV mini series of all time, has to be V - The Mini Series from 1983. The story of alien lizards, dressed as humans try and take over the resources of Earth is something you must see on DVD. There is of course more episodes in the TV series, where you find out more about the characters and what the lizard aliens are planning to do with humans and to Earth. So many great actors here such as Marc Singer, Robert Englund, Michael Ironisde and of course actress Jane Badler ( anyone who grew up as a teenager in the 80´s will admit that they all wanted to marry her ). While some of the TV mini series were good, there were some of them i just watched because my mother wanted to see something new. And one of them that we did pick up was a VHS rental cassette with the title of Widows. A TV mini series released in 1983 ( probably in 1984 in Sweden since we were usually late with VHS releases ), telling the story of a group of widows to bank robbers, who decide to make a bank robbery themselves. So i did not expect to see a new movie be made, based on the classic TV mini series from 1983 with a very solid cast such as Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell and many more. I planned to see Widows in Cinema, but that never happened, so i got a chance to see the film recently on VOD instead. A classic concept with a really good cast, is Widows a movie that will please both fans of the TV mini series and a new audience, or is this a film that will most likely be forgotten ?
Veronica Rawlings ( Viola Davis ) is a Chicago teacher´s union delegate, happily married to Harry Rawlings ( Liam Neeson ). They live an ordinary life, enjoying each day together. Until one day, when Veronica is informed that Harry have been killed in a robbery operation, where Harry is involved with a group of criminal men. Veronica is forced to deal with this, not knowing he was a criminal. Other widows inluding Linda Perelli ( Michelle Rodriquez ) and Alice Gunner ( Elizabeth Debicki ) are forced to continue their lives, with this horrible tragedy of loosing their loved ones. Veronica finds Harry´s notebook, that have information of a heist that would give 5 million U.S. dollars. Since Veronica is running out of money, including the other widows, she give them a suggestion, that they will do their own heist. But an old enemy of Harry, under the name of Jamal Manning ( Brian Tyree Henry ) is a crime boss who wants his money back from Harry´s failed heist. Will Veronica and the other women pull this off, with Jamal and his men looking for lost money ?
I barely remember Widows from the 80´s so i did see a trailer on YouTube before i reviewed this updated version. It does not look really good, even if i recognized some of the actors. This updated version of Widows is of course a similar story, and seems to have had influences from the TV mini series. The good news is that this version actually manage to work, because of great female characters ( who are also able to give us good performances ). In these days we need movies where women get to be in the center, and this is something that Widows does in a positive way. Let´s talk about the female characters. Actress Viola Davis ( who can be seen in several films such as Prisoners and Suicide Squad ) leads the female robbery team. Viola Davis shows again why she is such a powerful actor, and give her character a very realistic portrait. Actoress Michelle Rodriquez ( who have done a number of really good films, such as Girlfight and Machete ) plays Linda, who is a hard working mother. Michelle gives her character a very difficult portrait, can she sacrifice her ordinary life by becoming a criminal ? And this is something Michelle manage to deliver, a portrait that most mothers could not imagine seeing themselves do. Actress Elizabeth Debecki ( known from films such as The Great Gatsby and Everest ) plays sugar daddy Alice, a character you will be affected by. And i have to say, Elizabeth give this character the right attitude and personality. Even if the female cast does a good jobs, we have especially one big problem with Widows. This film seemed to have great action scenes. This is unfortunately not true. Instead we get a lot of dialogue scenes, and more drama than i expected. And this is the biggest weakness of Widows. There is potential here with a good cast, and a talented director to make a great action revenge film, but for some reason this film becomes more of a drama film instead. I understand that the film tries to help us get to know the widows better, and what they plan to do together. I have no problem with getting to know the characters better, but since this film is over 2 hours there are some very slow scenes along the way. If the action scenes could have taken over more of the dialogue scenes, i have a feeling that Widows could have been more interesting. With that said, i can´t say that this is a bad film. There is a story here that have a lot to say about the choices we make in life, and how far we are willing to go no matter what could happen. The robbery theme have been seen so many times, not that long ago in films such as Den Of Thieves. But seeing a group of strong women in Widows makes this film stand out in this genre, in a positive way. Director Steve McQueen ( who directed the really powerful drama 12 Years A Slave ) have made a film that will most likely be appreciated by people who want to see a strong female cast. Give Widows a chance, if you enjoy robbery films with drama influences.