(director/writer: Steve McQueen; screenwriter: Gillian Flynn; cinematographer: Sean Bobbitt; editor: Joe Walker; music: Hans Zimmer; cast: Viola Davis (Veronica), Elizabeth Debicki (Alice), (Michelle Rodriguez (Linda), Cynthia Erivo(Belle), Colin Farrell (Jack Mulligan), Robert Duvall (Tom Mulligan), Liam Neeson (Henry Rawlings), Jon Bernthal (Florek), Cynthia Erivo (Belle), Brian Tyree Henry (Jamal Manning), Daniel Kaluuya (Jatemme Manning), Jacki Weaver (Agnieska), Carrie Coon (Amanda); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: R; producers: ; 20th Century Fox; 2018)

“A crowd-pleasing violent urban heist drama that features tough women.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit writer-director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”/”Hunger”), with a top-notch cast and great technical support, gives us a crowd-pleasing violent urban heist drama that features tough women. It’s a robust remake of both the 1983 and 1985 two-part Brit TV miniseries, written by Lynda La Plant. It’s about moribund women taking over for their criminal men who are killed in a botched robbery of millions of dollars, where the money is all lost when the men are blown up. The gang in their attempt to rob their rival mobster Jatemme Manning (Daniel Kaluuya), leave their wives in a pickle. Instead of London or Liverpool the setting is now a politically corrupt contemporary Chicago. It’s co-written by Gone Girl screenwriter Gillian Flynn. The three women who star in the film are all recent widows of a daring criminal gang. The penthouse dwelling and poodle owner Veronica (Viola Davis) is a no-nonsense retired teacher and union delegate, Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) is a thrift store owner aghast that her business was sold out from under her because of her late husband’s gambling debts, and the fragile abused trophy wife Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) is someone who becomes an escort as advised by her mom (Jacki Weaver). The still grieving and in shock women are confronted by the vicious Jatemme, who demands his missing money back or else promises bloody revenge. The story unfolds in the climate of a corrupt city, where the up-and-coming venal and wealthy alderman (Colin Farrel) and his even-worse retiring racist dad alderman (Robert Duvall) set the tone for the film, as gang leader Jatemme is their enforcer. Colin’s insensitive wife (Carrie Coon) could care less about the poor in town and acts to bring out the worst in her hubby. Seeing no help from the city, the ladies revive their husbands’ criminal gang and the hairdresser (Cynthia Erivo) is chosen to be the getaway driver in their robbery of political campaign funds (a scheme planned out in written detail by Viola’s safe-cracker husband Liam Neesom as his next job). The active plot connects how corrupt politicians are linked with gangsters, and how money and power connect. The commercial film works mostly as a fun thriller, one that’s competently acted and directed. It’s a slick film in the style of those old Hollywood gangster films. It comes alive showing the horrors of everyday life on the south side of Chicago that are caused by corrupt city leaders and criminals, as it reaches for some gravitas from the usual crime drama by including socio-political issues.Robert Duvall in a small role gives an explosive memorable performance. Though the film is carried by the powerful Davis, in a Joan Crawford-like performance, who has the best one-liner- “No one thinks we have the balls to pull this off!”, yet the most diverting performance might be by Elizabeth Debicki.


REVIEWED ON 11/9/2018 GRADE: B+      https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/