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With only three feature films under his belt, British filmmaker Steve McQueen walked off the with the best director prize for his 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave. That was five years ago and he’s been largely MIA since then in terms of his cinematic output. Thankfully, he’s chosen a worthy project as his follow up with his new film Widows. It’s a sprawling and twisty crime thriller that never outreaches its grasp and crackles with energy. It also manages to speak directly to the times in which we currently reside, like so many of the best films I’ve seen this year. This one is right up there with the best that 2018 has had to offer thus far.

There are many plot strands to be found in Widows and all of them are equally engrossing. The most prominent of those is the one for which the film derives its title. In that story thread three women find their lives inextricably linked by the fact that their deceased husbands were part of a failed heist. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki are the widows of the film’s title who, upon finding themselves in dire financial straits in the wake of the demise of their spouses, bind together to recoup the missing money left behind. All three actresses are superb and the casting, which is very pivotal for this to work, couldn’t be better.

Viola Davis & Liam Neeson in Widows

And then there is what I like to refer to as the B and C plots, both of which are also engrossing. These involve a political race and the two competing candidates, both of whom are tied to the main plot in ways that it would be unthinkable to reveal here. Suffice it to say that it offers a great opportunity for these pros to shine, among them Robert Duvall, Collin Farrell, Liam Neeson and the star of last year’s Oscar darling Get Out, Daniel Kaluuya.

McQueen certainly exhibits directorial prowess in regard to guiding his gargantuan cast with a sure and steady hand. He also seems to be showing signs of growth and is getting more interesting each time out, in terms of his technical skill as a filmmaker.

Widows is certainly no exception in the latter department and it’s great to see his measurable growth there. Of course, it certainly helps to have chosen to co-write his latest film with the acclaimed novelist, Gillian Flynn. Together they’ve put together a compelling film that rarely disappoints.

Widows is playing now at the Carmike in Hickory & all around the area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.