Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Rodriguez’

Viola Davis

“WIDOWS” My rating: B

129 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Widows” is a sprawling crime drama that wants to be something more…and almost gets there.

The latest from Brit director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave,” “Shame”) is a heist film with a twist: The perps are all women forced to engage in a crime in order to survive.

In the opening moments we see a group of career criminals — their leader, Harry Rawlings, is portrayed by Liam Neeson — saying goodbye to their families and going off to “work.”  That night all of them die in a fiery crash after stealing millions from a local Chicago crime lord.

They leave behind grieving women who aren’t sure how to get on with their lives.  Harry’s widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), still has the couple’s posh apartment and at least a small reservoir of cash. But her love for Harry was so intense and complete that she’s a mere shell of her former self.

Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) has supported her two kids with a dress shop — though her no-good hubby was always dipping into the till and, in fact, hasn’t paid the rent for months. Trophy wife Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) is pretty much cast adrift; her often-violent spouse (Jon Bernthal) has left behind nothing but bruises.

Worse is still to come.  Veronica is paid a visit by Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) whose millions, stolen by Harry’s crew, went up in flames. He now informs Veronica that she must make good on that debt…or else.  She has no choice but to recruit the other widows whose lives are also in danger; using as their guide a notebook in which Harry meticulously planned future crimes, the three women prepare and execute another multi-million-dollar heist.

This would be enough plot for most films. But the screenplay by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) is only getting started. What they envision with “Widows” is a multi-character examination of modern American urban life…and it isn’t pretty.

This is a world in which everybody is a crook, including — no, especially — politicians.

Despite his criminal enterprises, Jamal Manning is running for city alderman (hey, it’s Chicago). His opponent is the Kennedy-esqe Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), whose closet-racist father (Robert Duvall) has up to now kept the seat in the family despite redistricting that has left the voter pool almost 100 percent black. No matter who wins, the residents are going to get screwed.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

"Furious 7"...the usual suspects

“Furious 7″…the usual suspects

“FURIOUS 7” My rating: B-

135 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Subtlety is not the reason the “Fast and Furious” franchise became a box office juggernaut.

Rather, it’s all about roaring engines, outlandish stunts, bikinied babes, music-video pacing, racially diverse (if one-dimensional) characters and a playful sense of camaraderie — elements that appeal to audiences all over the world.

“Furious 7” doesn’t mess with the formula, though this latest entry can’t help coming off as bittersweet, what with the 2013 car-crash death of leading man Paul Walker as filming neared completion.

If the action is spectacular, giving us violent ballets of speed and destruction, the film’s attempts at emotion are simplistic and sappy. But the lingering sense of loss over Walker’s demise gives the material a dramatic underpinning it doesn’t really deserve.

“7” concludes with flashbacks of Walker from the previous films, and even sneerers may reach for the Kleenex.

Mostly though, Chris Morgan’s screenplay and James Wan’s direction keep things moving. Like a second-grader with ADD, the film is impossibly restless (is there one shot that lasts more than 10 seconds?). The dialogue is often stunningly (intentionally?) bad, filled with cliches from the action movie playbook.

This time around the blended team of crooks and lawmen — the alpha dog Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) — are being stalked by an implacable and seemingly unbeatable enemy.

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother of the criminal mastermind the crew took down in the last film, wants revenge and methodically goes after our guys.

(more…)

Read Full Post »