Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Their First Rodeo

Widows (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

money bagsChicago 18 Ward Alderman Tom "Max" Mulligan (Robert Duvall) wants to pass the baton to his reluctant son Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) but first Jr. has to win the Aug. 7 election. To help secure the minority vote, the (white) incumbent brandishes his Minority Women Owned Work program that helps such get started. The election would be a slam dunk but the district lines have been redrawn and (black) gang leader Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is running in hope of securing a power base. Max comes from a long line of ruling Mulligans. He does not want his son to be the “first Mulligan to lose to a nigger.” Jamal is looking to the local Rev. Wheeler to pit his large congre­gation against the nepotism of his rival. He plans to make a sizable donation to help gain the reverend's support.

glassUnfortunately, Jamal was robbed of his $2 million cash fund, and the getaway van got incinerated in the process, taking with it the money, the leader “Harry Rawlings is dead” (Liam Neeson), and all of his accomplices. Jamal's brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) now seems to be in charge of recouping the loss from their widows: Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is given one month to liquidate the emblems of her lavish life­style, which Harry had provided her with; widow Linda (Michelle Rodriquez) has her store fore­closed on by the mob whom her flaky husband got it in hock to; Polish immigrant Alice “Alitzia” (Elizabeth Debicki) will need to get her share through service to “generous men”; and who knows how widowed mom Amanda (Carrie Coon) will fare.

Veronica has other ideas if the other widows will go along with her. “I have a business proposition,” she tells them. “Our lives are in danger. Our husbands aren't coming home.” She has found Harry's note­book meticulously detailing the last job he had planned. She wants them to pull it off themselves.


At one point the senior Mulligan confides to his son that all the talk of public service and the good of the people is just so much bluster; they do what they do for survival, that's all. Novelist R.J. Ellory expands on this topic in one of his books: (118–19)

“Survival,” Perez stated matter-of-factly. “It always comes down to nothing more fundamental than survival.”

Hartmann leaned forward. “You truly believe that all the things that have been done have been done in the name of survival?”

“I do.”

“How could survival ever justify murder?”

“That is easy, Mr. Hartmann, because more often than not it is simply a matter of your­self or them. Faced with such a situation there are few that would be willing to sacrifice their own lives.”

Hartmann looked at Perez, looked right at him, and believed that the man was more animal than human being. “But what about people who murder complete strangers simply for money?”

“Money is survival. The truth is that motive can never be truly appreciated by another. Motive is a personal thing, perhaps as personal and individual as the killer him­self. He kills for some reason under­stood only by him­self, and that reason can always be explained by the individual's own perception of what will enable him to survive in the best manner at the time. Later, perhaps, in hind­sight, a different view­point will lend itself to the situation and the perpetrator may believe that he has done wrong, but in the moment of the killing I can guarantee that it was adjudicated to be the most contributive to his own survival, or the survival of that which owned his loyalty.”

crucified ChristIn this movie set in Chicago, the survival of individuals or of factions is the prime motivator. For the entrenched Mulligan line, the chicanery begins to look like original sin (viz Romans 3:10-13) passed on, “derived down from generation to generation.” Enter Jamal's gang and it only gets worse (viz Romans 3:14-17.) The camera pans through a lot of church funerals, at one point alighting on a bleeding savior getting crucified (“sangre … tus manos”) on a cross, reminding us of the costly price our redemption required (viz Romans 3:23-26), which we hope Rev. Wheeler's sermon will get to.

Race strife underlies the plot of this movie, in particular the mixed marriage of Harry and Veronica. At first blush it looks like they have a stable marriage; at least there's a lot of animal chemistry between them. But Veronica has some reservations. She says she, “Never thought I'd marry a white man or a criminal.” Harry was troubled because their teen­age son met his demise at a traffic stop for fumbling around with his black hands in the dark interior of the car where the cops couldn't see them and thought the worst. The movie itself portrays enough unprovoked violence by black males of a certain age that our sympathy inclines towards the police. A White Harry is only going to get black children from a black Veronica, he wants a better deal. Maybe he wants children better suited to follow him in his line of work. Whatever.

In the march of original sin in the garden down to sin in Chicago, there is a critical incident in the Bible where Noah was observed passed out in his tent. And there's a critical scene in this movie where Harry—who is prone to drink—has a lapse of memory forgetting his wife's anniversary gift in the car and has to call his son to ask him to bring it to him. Gen. 9:20-22, Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him uncovered in his tent. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way that Noah sniffed out upon awakening, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. The blessing of Shem was shared by Japheth who was to dwell in the tents of Shem.

From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). Harry in the movie is white. The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa. Writer Bodie Hodge (134) quotes “Bible Questions and Answers,” from The Golden Age (July 24, 1929): p. 702.

Question: Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?

Answer: It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race.

Canaan is the youngest son of Ham carrying the curse on the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche where a part stands for the whole. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.” To any question of whether the descendants of Japheth and/or Shem should be willing to share some or all of their Noahic blessing with descendants of Ham, I refer my reader to Grace Goldin's Midrash on Ruth (36–7):

“You were too harsh with Orpah,” Ruth declared. “Had you but coaxed her as she dared you to She might have gone the difficult way with you.” “We are forbidden bribery, my Ruth,” Replied Naomi, marching steadily now, … “Since only those who come with extreme love For heaven and heavenly things, and love of God, Are welcome to be Jews.”

Orpah was unwilling to travel the tough road of being Jewish, so she was allowed to return to her Moab people, while a more determined Ruth went with her Jewish mother-in-law to Israel. In our movie is this exchange: Jack Mulligan: “What I've learned from men like my father and your husband is that you reap what you sow.” ¶Veronica: “Let's hope so.” That's a reference to, (Gal. 6:7) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for what­soever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Harry's son with the black hands making an illegal U-turn, concealing them when the cops stopped him, not following their order to let them see his hands, paid a penalty for his disobedience. Veronica's crew included a white woman and a Latina and black Belle (Cynthia Erivo) who wasn't one of the widows but filled in as a driver. The arrangement worked for them. As for the money, Veronica was advised to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's” (Matt. 22:21.) Rev. Wheeler does well to render unto God his sermon and let the tribute money sort itself out.

Production Values

” (2018) was directed by Steve McQueen who co-wrote the screenplay with Gillian Flynn. It was based on material by Lynda La Plante that was used in a UK telly series. It stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki. The acting was swell all around. The lead couple was well matched in acting ability.

MPAA rated it R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content/nudity. The widows were dressed to the nines. It's a busy plot with sporadic violence. The pervasive menace might not appeal to those with fragile nerves.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Widows” has a Machiavellian plot that's not beyond an occasional twist or turn. Makes me glad I don't live in Chicago, though. It's well acted and holds together through time jumps.

Movie Ratings

Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Action factor: Well done action flick. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Ellory, R.J. A Quiet Vendetta. New York: The Overlook Press, 2012. Print.

Goldin, Grace. Come Under the Wings, A Midrash on Ruth. Philadelphia: The Jewish Society of America, 1958, 1980 / 5740. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.