Imagine if Shakespeare had killed Macbeth in the opening scene and left Lady Macbeth holding the bag. Widows demos the heist hierarchy as the wives of a quartet of dead criminals plot to steal $5 million. Lydia (Viola Davis) is the leader, using the well-laid plans of her husband, a well-known thief named Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson). She assigns tasks to two other widows—Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and the more-resourceful-than-she-looks Alice (Elizabeth Debicki, whose height is striking)—as they collectively seek to escape the vengeance of Jamaal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry, whom you might recognize as Paper Boi from “Atlanta”), the crime boss whose political aspirations were damaged when their late husbands stole his $2 million.
Adapted from an award-winning ’80s British television series by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Academy Award winner Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Widows is the best heist movie I have seen in years. Even as the key pieces remain the same, everything is subtly, electrifyingly different. Gender swapping is so crucial to the narrative—by putting the women in charge, Widows invigorates an unadventurous old genre and adds some social relevance to boot.