Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis: How to Get Away with Murder) has made a happy life by blinding herself to husband Harry’s (Liam Neeson: The Commuter) work as an armed robber.

      Until she gets a harsh dose of reality. Harry’s last job — the one that got him and his crew killed — involved robbing one of the biggest gangsters in the Southside of Chicago. The loot burned up with Harry and his crew, so the gangsters expect Veronica to pay them back.

       She can come up with $2 million. Or she can die.

      Veronica pins her hopes on Harry’s notebook outlining his plan for his next job and a guaranteed $5 million payday.

       For a crew, who better than the widows of Harry’s crew, all left penniless targets. 

       None, of course, knows the first thing about robbery. Veronica kept willfully ignorant. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez: The Fate of the Furious) — a mother of two, whose gambling addict husband sent her store into foreclosure — didn’t have time to ask questions. Alice (Elizabeth Debicki: The Cloverfield Paradox) was beaten when she dared question her husband.

       Now, they have to learn how fast. 

      Can these women save themselves? Or is it really a man’s world?

      For a movie that that can be summarized in a sentence — Men are the worst; go out with your girlfriends and rob themWidows is surprisingly complex. Director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) has made a thoughtful heist movie that, despite its two-plus-hour run time, seems brisk. Tense, intricately shot and beautifully acted, it touches on racism, sexism and classism. That’s a lot to cover, but McQueen knits the themes into the women’s journeys. 

      Even better than excellent camera work and great pacing are the three women at its center. Each represents a stereotypical female role: Davis is the rich snob, Rodriguez the put-upon mother and Debicki the sexy ditz. As the movie progresses, they step outside these little boxes, bonding with each other and growing into rounded characters. Working together brings out their hidden strengths. 

     A movie about women stepping up and demanding a better role in the world, Widows is an action movie that’s fun and thought-provoking. See it in a packed theater with a big group of friends, so you can all cheer the ladies on as they work to “take down the man.” 

Great Heist Flick • R • 129 mins.


~~~ New this Week ~~~

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

     Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escaped before he was brought to trial. Now free, he is gathering support for his campaign to have pureblood wizards rule the world. In a wizard world divided and oppressed by fear, professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) has a plan. 

      Dumbledore invites former student Newt (Eddie Redmayne) — instrumental in Grindelwald’s earlier capture — to lead the charge.

      The first Fantastic Beasts movie was a bit of a letdown for Harry Potter fans. Will this one do better, bringing well-developed characters to an interesting script? Maybe, maybe not. Newt’s many quirks and tics become distracting. But Dan Fogler makes a crowd pleaser as a muggle amazed at the magical things he sees. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 134 mins. 


Green Book

     Dr. Don Shirley’s (Mahershala Ali) national tour stops in the Deep South at clubs where it’s dangerous for a black man to go alone. 

     Shirley is not alone. He has the Green Book, which guides black artists in the south to safe places. And he has Tony Lip, (Viggo Mortensen), a Bronx-born tough as security. The two clash at first, but Lip grows to admire Shirley for his talent and his fortitude.

     A true story about two men learning to rely on each other and appreciate their differences, Green Book should be a touching drama. Ali is a charismatic performer, and his easy chemistry with Mortensen should pull against the clichéd story of a white man learning a life lesson about oppressed people. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 130 mins. 


Instant Family

      Pete and Ellie (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) want a family. When they apply for adoption, they have dreams of a baby. Instead they adopt a set of three siblings ranging from tiny to teen. 

      Inspired by real events, Instant Family is the heartwarming sort of comedy made for the holiday season. 

Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 117 mins.