The Most Underrated Crime Thriller of the 2010s is Now on Netflix
The movie strikes the perfect balance between a fast-paced, action-packed thriller and a poignant drama with deep social commentary. And yet it flew under the radar.
- In 2018, 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen tried his hand at a new genre: the heist thriller
- The film was praised by critics for its storytelling, ideas, and visuals, but there was no hype surrounding it
- After 5 years, it is available on streaming services and is definitely one of the best of the genre
Steve McQueen is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of recent decades: his unconventional directing and storytelling style is full of poignant social realism, enhanced by the special visual techniques and superb acting of the talented stars involved in his projects.
In addition to 12 Years a Slave, McQueen directed the neo-noir heist thriller Widows. Released 5 years ago, it was a new frontier for a filmmaker with no previous experience in the genre, but although Widows was somewhat coldly received by audiences upon its release, it is now considered one of the most profound and compelling thrillers ever made. All the more reason to watch it in 2023, especially since it's available on streaming services!
About the Movie
The writer is a true colossus of the literary and screenwriting world, Gillian Flynn, who gave us the novels Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and Gone Girl, for which she also wrote the screenplay. That alone should be enough to get you interested in Widows.
The movie follows Chicago women whose husbands were robbers until they were murdered after stealing a large sum from a crime boss and politician. Each of the heroines faced the unfortunate realities of a patriarchal society as their husbands were either estranged or no strangers to manipulation, abuse and domestic violence. After their deaths, however, the women must survive on their own and find themselves pressured by criminals to rob another corrupt politician whose son also runs a company for the alderman.
Incredibly Talented Cast
The movie is at least worth the time spent watching thanks to the excellent cast: the titular women are played by Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki (who can now be seen as Princess Diana in The Crown ).
Equally successful was the chilling performance of Daniel Kaluuya, who played the ruthless brother of the criminal leader. The character was not only a perfect fit for the genre, but also proved to be a great narrative foil, as his callousness, cynicism, and cold calculation contrasted sharply with the emotional chaos in the widows' minds.
Some Numbers and First Impressions
Unlike 12 Years a Slave, the film was not a commercial success: with a budget of $42 million, Widows only managed to gross $76 million worldwide. It could not rely on good reviews alone, and with a lack of advertising and with competitors like The Crimes of Grindelwald and Instant Family, the movie went almost unnoticed. Now that it's on streaming services, however, the situation has changed.
Why It's Worthwhile to See
Now Widows has received its well-deserved acclaim and gained a cult following, with first-time viewers noticing how brilliantly McQueen conveys the emotional state of lost women. All of this is set against a backdrop of profound social commentary about racism and police brutality, sexism and corrupt politicians.
But with such an overabundance of themes, it is difficult to maintain a balance. Nonetheless, according to audience sentiment, the film manages to remain a gripping action thriller, but one in which the characters do not enjoy their deeds.
Where to See It in 2023
If you're a Netflix subscriber, the movie recently became available on the streaming service! There's just one catch: if you live in the U.S., it's only available via VPN.
The movie is also available to stream with a subscription to Freevee and Prime Video.