Rated R, 129 minutes
The fast-moving heist drama "Widows" is an entertaining crowd-pleaser that'll have you extremely thankful for the wonderful Viola Davis. It's a flawed affair: it's filled with too many characters and an unfocused, over-the-top last act nearly ruins it, but there's enough to keep you going.
A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica (Oscar-winner Davis), Linda ("Fast and Furious'" Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) -- have nothing in common except a debt left behind by their spouses' criminal activities. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms, Veronica joins forces with the other three women to pull off a heist that her husband was planning.
"Widows" is a nicely acted, engaging heist potboiler, well-ground by Davis, who headlines a large, overstuffed cast. It's directed by Oscar-winner Steve McQueen of "Twelve Years A Slave" fame and is co-written by McQueen and "Gone Girl's" Gillian Flynn and while the women are most memorable, watch for a solid supporting cast that includes Colin Farrell,"Atlanta's" Brian Tyree Henry, "Get Out's" Daniel Kaluuya and in a tiny part, Liam Neeson.
Davis is superb as the leading widow, and she's aided by a memorable Debicki ("Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"), who in one scene actually has the nerve to literally slap back at Davis. This seems typical for Rodriguez, who's been in the "Fast and Furious" films for years, but it's nice to see Erivo again after her star-making turn in the recent "Bad Times at the El Royale," though she's given less to do here.
The first two-thirds of "Widows" is solid, but it loses some steam with too many characters and a few over-the-top twists that seem implausible even for a heist flick like this. Those that get lost in the fray are Oscar-winner Duvall, who seems awfully grumpy here in a f-you type of way, Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver as Alice's hard-nosed mother, and Liam Neeson, seen only sparingly but who still plays a key role.
Still, "Widows" has some good moments (there are a few good surprises, including a shocking one with Kaluuya, who plays a real meanie here), and Davis proves she can carry a movie on her shoulders just fine, and I'm good with that too. Entertaining, flawed, but worth a look.