Film Review: WIDOWS (USA 2018) ***1/2

Widows Poster
Trailer

Set in contemporary Chicago, amidst a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Director:

Steve McQueen

Writers:

Gillian Flynn (screenplay by), Steve McQueen (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

Drama heavyweight director of critical hits like HUNGER and 12 YEARS A SLAVE attempts an action packed pyro-technics thriller WIDOWS with quite an impressive cast of heavyweights headed by Viola Davis.

WIDOWS is that rare action movie centring on women proving that they too can carry an action film.  The script is by GONE GIRL author Gillian Flynn.

Veronica (Davis) lives an idyllic life in Chicago, ensconced in the loving arms of her husband, Rawlins (Liam Neeson), and in their luxurious condo.  But Rawlins bought that cushy life robbing people, unknown to Veronica, a teacher in the Chicago education system.  (There is no scene of Veronica at her work.)   When a job with his gang goes fatally wrong, Veronica’s life falls to pieces.  With a local crime lord (Brian Tyree Henry) and his muscle (Daniel Kaluuya) pressing her to pay Rawlins’s $2 million debt,  Veronica realizes her late husband’s shady business sees only one option: round up the three other women who had slept for years next to these seasoned criminals, and make a plan left by her husband to win their lives back.  There is also a side plot involving the crime lord running for office against another crooked white politician Tom Mulligan (Colin Farrell).  

The film’s most interesting character is Tom Mulligan.  Tom exerts a power both within and beyond the law, pushed by his father (Robert Duvall).  Tom appears to be a worthy candidate but deep inside, he is fed up of the father’s dynasty in Chicago and wants out.  It is not surprising that the film is at its most interesting when McQueen deals with the drama rather than the action as in the film’s best scene – the confrontation between Farrell and Duvall.

To make the heist film more personal, the film interweaves the lives and hence, problems of the 4 widows that undertake the heist.  Each have their own burdens.  The other three are played by Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, and Elizabeth Debicki all of whom shine in their roles.

McQueen has achieved the rare feat of being able to elicit unforgettable performances – not from a  few but from his entire cast.  The best two performances belong to Farrell who is aided by the most intriguing written character and GET OUT’s immediately recognizable Daniel Kaluuya who demonstrates how smooth violence can be executed.

As this is McQueen’s first action flick, one can see him trying too hard at times.  The romantic scenes are a bit too livid for comfort, all the kissing scenes involving the tongue.  This results in the kissing scene (mixed race) between Viola Davis and Liam Neeson that would make quite a few quite uncomfortable.  Credit for trying.

As a thriller, WIDOWS contains quite a few plot twists.  Well written and inserted into the storyline, they serve to enrich the drama rather than just being there for the sole purpose of surprise, a tactic that seems now too common in most Hollywood thrillers.

WIDOWS premiered successfully at the Toronto International Film Festival to general favourable reviews.  WIDOWS should not only please McQueen’s fan base but extend his career into the Hollywood mainstream.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN2yBBSRC78

Happy Birthday: Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle RodriguezDate of Birth 12 July 1978, San Antonio, Texas, USA
Birth Name Mayte Michelle Rodriguez
Nickname MRod
Height 5′ 5″ (1.65 m)

I think empathy is a beautiful thing. I think that’s the power of film though. We have one of the most powerful, one of the greatest communicative tools known to man. It’s a form of communication and it’s gonna reach you in a way of growth – most of the time.

I don’t want people thinking of me sexually. I don’t want people to be like, “She’s hot-looking,” you know? I want them to listen to me for what I am saying. And I think the best way to do that is to sniff my armpits, and like, sit and burp every now and then. It just completely throws people off. I had a couple of offers to do some hot scenes in the shower with some guy and to make it real hot and sexy. The next thing you know, I’d be the next J.Lo or something. But that’s easy. I want [success] the hard way.

My favorite part of my body is my brain. I think no matter what my body looks like, I won’t be satisfied unless I know how to use it.

I don’t think it’s narcissistic at all to love yourself and believe in yourself. I think some people are really scared to do that. I have to. If I don’t, I would not succeed in what I do.

No matter what, people are so narrow minded that it won’t ever be Michelle Rodriguez the actress, it will always be Michelle Rodriguez the Latin actress. And it’s just something that I have to live with, because of the fact that people need labels to understand things. I can’t even get into this ignorance that I’m dealing with. So I just ignore it, you know? Ignore the ignorance.

Film Review: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (USA 2017)

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fast_and_furious_8.jpgDirector: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
With so many in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise with the false promise that the last FAST AND FURIOUS would be the last one, this 8th edition, nicknamed F8 provides much, much more of the same, louder and noisier as most sequels promise. (I had lost count and thought this was the 9th.)
This latest edition assumes that the audience is familiar with most of the characters and does not bother with any flashbacks or explanations.

With so many characters, it is probably a good idea not to do so. The film allows the audience to guess what has occurred in the past and for a film like this, it is only the action and fast cars that count – not the characters.

The plot of THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS, not that it really matters, follows the events of Furious 7. Dominic Toretto aka Dom (Vin Diesel) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have gone on their honeymoon, and the rest of the crew have begun to settle down to a more normal life. But when a mysterious woman, later to be revealed as Cipher, a super villain (Charlize Theron) convinces Dom to work against the people that he is closest to, the rest of the crew must face trials they have never seen before – including some former enemies – in order to bring back the man who brought them together in the first place.

In case one has forgotten. the other crew members include Like DSS agent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Deckard Shaw, a rogue specialist (Jason Statham), mechanic Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), former criminal Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) among others.

As far as the film goes, this is male chauvinist pig material all the way – all the more for decent women and men to hate this kind of film. The beginning race for example is started by a scantily dressed female in extreme shorts waving down a flag. Vin Diesel exploits his male macho body to no end. Apparently Diesel is an a**hole in real life as mentioned to be by a fellow critic who had interviewed him. His co-star Johnson also called him horse s***. Johnson is a pleasure to watch on screen but I can hardly say the same for Diesel.

It is odd to see that the script by Chris Morgan which clearly lacks any hint of character development whatsoever take on the issue of the importance of family. Helen Mirren has a cameo as he mother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) stressing the importance of family values and the inclusion of his brother (Luke Evans) into his activities. Deckard spends a chunk of screen time saving Dom’s baby. Dom says his baby is the most important person in his life.

Oscar Winner Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) shows that even a dame of the British Empire is willing to take an easy pay check for a cameo role in big budget Hollywood rubbish like this one. The term is called slumming and many famous stars have slummed before.

THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS (budget of $250 million) is slotted to make more than $100 million this weekend. The film is nothing more than silly special effects that though looks stunning in iMAX (the film contains a record number of cars trashed) does nothing for the movie industry or the human race.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMKRevYa_M

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