Reviews: Widows and Robin Hood

At the movies: Crime-drama Widows and action-adventure Robin Hood are in cinemas now. Photos: Supplied.
At the movies: Crime-drama Widows and action-adventure Robin Hood are in cinemas now. Photos: Supplied.

Crime-drama Widows starts off with a bang, as four thieves – Harry (Liam Neeson), Florek (Jon Bernthal), Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) – are blown up whilst carrying out a robbery. 

Harry’s widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), is forced to contend with more than just her husband’s demise.

The victims of the theft – mob enforcer/electoral candidate Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) and Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya) – aren’t happy, and demand Veronica pay back the $2 million Harry and co. stole.

Veronica and the other widows – Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), and Amanda (Carrie Coon) – are drawn into a world of violence and corruption. 

Widows has a lot of talented people at its disposal, with the cast, director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Shame) and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) setting the bar extraordinarily high. 

Sadly, Widows doesn’t quite reach the standards set by several ground-breaking heist-thrillers before it (Heat, for one). 

Featuring a handful of awkward scenes and plot-holes, Flynn’s script could have benefited from another re-write. 

However, McQueen’s purposeful pacing, attention to detail, and signature flourishes give the movie a unique tone and aesthetic. 

Chicago provides the perfect back-drop for Widows’s prescient political-drama story-line, while cinematographer Sean Bobbitt comes up with some wonderfully inventive camera work. 

The action is edge-of-your-seat thrilling, with the third-act heist/ensuing car chase worth the price of admission. 

The actors are somewhat hit and miss. Whereas Davis, Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, and Jacki Weaver deliver powerhouse performances, Coon and Rodriguez struggle to make an impression. 

Colin Farrell excels as Jamal’s snotty political adversary. Robert Duvall, however, is hammy in his handful of scenes.

Despite its inconsistencies, Widows shines as both a grounded heist flick and a sharp political-drama. 

Robin Hood

In 2018’s reboot of Robin Hood, the titular hero (Taron Egerton) and his gal Marian (Eve Hewson) are torn apart after Robin is ordered to fight in the Crusades. 

Returning home four years later following an act of defiance, Robin finds out Marian has fallen for Will Scarlet (Jamie Dornan). 

Robin and his war-ravaged mentor, John (Jamie Foxx), take their frustrations out on the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) and the church – stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. 

This updated version of Robin Hood is a misfire of epic proportions. 

The movie’s plot packs in a host of action-adventure cliches. 

It even has the gall to steal dialogue, whole sequences, and plot-points from the Dark Knight trilogy. 

Egerton and Foxx work well together, but deserve better material.

Meanwhile, Mendelsohn comes off as an overacting buffoon and not a menacing antagonist. 

Australian comedian Tim Minchin is the standout as Friar Tuck.   

Hampered by anachronisms, badly-edited action scenes, weak dialogue, and obvious messages, Robin Hood woefully misses the target. 

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