Rated Greg’s Revised Top 5 Movies of 2018
Mission Impossible: FalloutWidows A Star Is BornMission Impossible: Fallout Sicario: Day of the SoldadoA Star Is Born A Quiet PlaceSicario: Day of the Soldado First ManA Quiet Place
There’s a levity that comes with most heist thrillers. The genre was created as an experience for sheer entertainment, an escape from a mundane reality, films that generally don’t cause for much reflection. Think Ocean’s 11 or Fast and Furious or even last year’s Baby Driver. You simply want to watch the heroes get rich quick while making some wisecracks along the way, but at the end of the day their world doesn’t really have anything to do with yours.
The masterpieces of this genre set themselves a part though by carrying extra weight with them. The peak is arguably 1995’s Heat, bullets galore on the surface but at it’s heart is a story about the toll one’s profession can take on their own personal life (and about Pacino’s love of great asses). More recently 2016’s Hell or High Water questioned the immorality of armed robbery, given dire circumstances in a forgotten part of the heartland. It was less cops vs robbers and more the poor vs predatory banks. Most recently we have Widows. Like Heat and Hell or High Water, Widows is a goddamn masterpiece.
There’s a lot going on in Widows. A lot more than the initial pitch (heist movie….. but with women) would have you suggest. Yeah there’s a makeshift team, yeah there’s a plan, and yeah there’s a safe to crack, but there’s also some very poignant thoughts on the magnitude of corruption inherent in a modern American establishment (in this case Chicago, Illinois). Gerrymandering, reckless police, kickbacks, nepotism, it’s likely the circle of life for many. Although the film is based on a British TV series from the early 80’s, I thought a lot of it actually could have been influenced by The Wire.
There are SO MANY great scenes in Widows that I won’t spoil. Really it’s just one after another from the jump. But a non-spoiler that you should be on the lookout for is a simple conversation that Colin Farrell has in the back of a moving town car early in the movie. The entire 2-3 minute scene is shot from the outside of the car but the audio is of the two characters out of frame, talking about nothing exactly pertinent to the plot. At the time I thought it was a strange and cool looking scene because typically the camera would be inside the vehicle. Only after listening to a podcast with director Steve McQueen did I realize that McQueen didn’t shoot it that way just to be cool, but he wanted to show the vast disparity between adjoining neighborhoods in a city like Chicago. You can go from a rundown section of town directly to big, nice houses with picket fences in mere minutes/blocks. I was focused on the conversation but I really should have been paying attention to the passing background.
Bottom line, Widows is extremely entertaining but will also make you think. It’s equally mysterious, exhilarating, profound, and jarring, not to mention has the best pound for pound cast of the year (Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez are the people you do know. Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Bryan Tyree Henry, Carrie Coon, and Olivia the dog are the people/canines you might not know but should). I wanted to give special recognition to Kaluuya’s performance but I think I’ll save that for the year-end wrap up. Instead I’ll just let it be known that Widows is the heavy favorite for Rated Greg’s best movie of the year (unless Roma crashes the party, not you though Aquaman). Grade: A+