Despite a star studded cast, ‘Widows’ fails to pick between political intrigue or heist thriller.

Entering the final five weeks of awards season for 2018, movie enthusiasts can bank on seeing top-notch casts and productions with regularity. These Golden Globe and Academy Awards wannabes will flood theaters this holiday season to give moviegoers difficult choices to muster at the box office window. 

We’ve already seen sure-fire nominations in “A Star Is Born,” “First Man” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Coming up are contenders “Green Book,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Roma,” “The Favourite,” and “Vice.” Some will be worthy of Oscar talk, while others will pin their awards hope merely on the director’s name or leading actor and actress. One such highly pushed film, yet completely underwhelming, is “Widows” by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (“12 Years A Slave,” 2013).

From a screenplay written by McQueen and “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn, “Widows” follows the lives of four women left behind after their criminal husbands are killed during a botched robbery escape. Now broke and dazed, the ladies join forces to attempt one more theft to pay off their debt and start their lives anew.

A worthy film plot with a sensational cast led by Oscar-winner Viola Davis and Colin Farrell, “Widows” never reaches its full thriller potential. After an action-packed introduction to their male counterparts in robbery mode, viewers find these widowed spouses caught in a drawn-out political story inside a Chicago South Side district.  

Unable to fully commit itself or either an action thriller or political chess match, “Widows” muddies the water with boredom until an engrossing final few minutes. This slowly developed story that chains ticket-holding viewers to their seats through the painstaking two hours and eight minutes will not have that luxury once the film hits pay-per-view or DVD. The patience to sit through this tedious storyline won’t exist for those watching at home.

Aside from numerous drawn out and dull scenes, “Widows” champions bad people over even worse moral characters. Viewers looking for positive role models or a heroic voice among the criminals at play will be left disappointed. Only the promise that these handful of empowered women will embark on noble career paths is offered up by the time the film credits roll. All too little and too late to deserve awards chatter for a slowly paced and labored narrative, all despite a headliner director and cast. Thankfully, better and more intriguing films are on the way in the weeks ahead. 

Grade: B-

“Widows” is rated R with a running time of 2 hours and 8 minutes.

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at reelbrief.com.  Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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