WIDOWS: Another Ocean’s Styled Heist Film

A big welcome back to Kernel Claire Smith, she left the cob, due to work, all the way back in 2014 and now rejoins the team a little more wise but still as much fun. Her first film out of the gates is WIDOWS. Another Ocean’s styled heist movie directed by Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE). Heist movies can be fun but have mostly been overdone with OCEAN’S 8 releasing only a few months back. WIDOWS is killing it in the US at the moment. After 100 reviews it’s sitting on 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Claire breaks the mould and has seen way too many movies, she wasn’t much of a fan. Enjoy her review and let us know what you think after you see it, if you see it.  

WIDOWS releases Thurs 22nd November in Australia from the fine folks at 20th Century Fox. It is rated M and runs for 129mins. Happy movieing………….Salty!



Widows follows the story of four women whose ex-husbands were killed in a high-stakes cash-heist gone wrong. In need of fast cash, the women team up to attempt one final job their ex-spouses were unable to complete.


Widows Viola Davis and Colin Farrell image
Viola Davis and Colin Farrell



Widows centres around Veronica Rawlings, played by Viola Davis of HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER fame. Veronica’s Hallmark-Card style of sappy relationship with husband Harry (Liam Neeson of TAKEN) is cut short by the failed robbery. Threatened by the monetary victim’s of Harry’s last heist, Veronica is granted one month to repay the stolen cash. She happens upon a notebook left by Harry outlining the gang’s next heist. After repeated threats to hers and her Scotty-dog’s life, Veronica approaches the remaining three widows for assistance. Michelle Rodriguez of The FAST AND FURIOUS franchise plays Linda – the brawn of the operation. GATSBY’s Elizabeth Debicki plays Alice – who uses her charms to manipulate hapless Americans into assisting her. Alice acquires a van but can’t drive it, a gun but can’t shoot it, and floorplans but can’t read them.

When tragedy befalls a member of their team, they’re forced to expand. They enlist Belle – played by Cynthia Erivo of BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE to assist as their new driver. Together they embark on a heist to nab a cool five-million dollars from local congressman Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell). The caper is interrupted by some proverbial spanners in the works. Their blackmailing friends hear about the mysterious notebook in question and begin their quest to take it from The Widows. As preparation begins for the heist, the widows’ past begins to catch up with them. Who will make their escape from the crime-scene with the hidden cash? Can criminals find justice in past crimes? Do the ends truly justify the means? And at what cost?


Widows Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki image
Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki



The performances in this film are solid. The actors are provided with a decent script and varied emotional range to display. The ensemble is numerous and talented, to be sure. But it just wasn’t enough to hold my interest. The film’s rhythm is let down by the pacing. Long and tedious scenes of dialogue brought on a serious case of “the noddies” in this off-brand OCEAN’S 8 imitation. The beginning of each act is delightfully fast paced and intriguing, but the gear shifts down to a slow hum for the remainder. Resulting in the film feeling far more lengthy and slow than it needs to be.

Although a silver-fox style of Colin Farrell is particularly pleasing to the eyes, the character is stereotypical for Farrell. Robert Duval makes an appearance in a familiar “Robert Duval” style of “Good old boy” character. Michelle Rodriguez’ character is a carbon copy of her Fast and Furious work. It’s a comfortable space for each of the players. Although this makes for the performance a breeze for the actors, it’s just not that interesting to watch. Davis’ excellent style of “cry-yelling” is always amazing, but it’s familiar territory for the well-versed actor. Neeson branches out a small amount as the love interest, but again it’s work we’ve seen before. They haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just not that compelling to watch what we’ve already seen.


Widows Robert Duvall image
Robert Duvall



There’s some excellent practical effects – car flips and explosions, and some gruesome death scenes. The performances are decent (if only a little familiar) and the script is reasonable. It’s hard to tell where this Chicago caper went wrong. We’re just bogged down with long scenes that ramble past their requirements for conveying the necessary information.

Apart from a few twists and turns, the plot is reasonably linear. “The Widows want to do a thing, so they go do the thing.” Although the stakes seemed high, there wasn’t a clear party that the audience could get behind for a win. Although it should be The Widows, it’s not clear who we should be rooting for. We aren’t really presented with a clear motive for us to support any of the teams to “win.” As a result, the film slows to a walking pace when we should be frantic with anticipation of the heist.


Widows Viola Davis and Cynthia Erivo image
Viola Davis and Cynthia Erivo



Unfortunately, this film is quite forgettable. Go if you have a spare couple of hours burning a hole in your pocket. If you’re really keen to see these actors chew their way through some mundane dialogue, splurge the ticket price. Otherwise, save your money and watch Oceans 8 again.





Kernel Claire retired from the Salty Popcorn cob in 2014 with full honors, but was lured back to the shine of the silver screen and the Salt of the Popcorn a mere four years later. When not hand-modelling for Kernel Jason’s food-reviews, Claire can be found scootering through Sydney at a reasonable, defensive driving speed; or fussing far too much over her little black rescue cat Baxter. Claire has worked in the Australian Cinema Industry for over 13yrs and loves it the most when she can report “sometimes I get paid to watch movies”. She’ll pretty much attend any event that includes a lanyard.