Widows probably works best as a three-minute trailer (punchy and funny) or a longform miniseries (deep and complicated). It’s a movie, though, which means we’re stuck with a fitfully engaging, 129-minute feature that only occasionally gets out of gear. The film is actually based on a miniseries, broadcast in England in the 1980s. Adapted here by Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn and director Steve McQueen, Widows tries to be a lot of different things: heist thriller, feminist statement, social-issue diagnosis. That’s a lot to bite off, and 129 minutes isn’t enough time for proper chewing.
Given a junky script and inert lead actors, director Michael Mann does what he can with Blackhat. The result is an occasionally intoxicating mess of a movie.
It’s about a world-class hacker. Which means the whole thing takes place as he sits at his keyboard and never leaves his parents’ basement. Just kidding. However, it is never explained why our hero needs to traipse across half of Asia if he’s supposedly a genius hacker who can re-wire a financial system through his smartphone.
Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) begins the movie in prison for past hack attacks. Sprung by an international plan to catch a cyber-terrorist responsible for shutting down a Chinese nuclear reactor, Nick joins a skeptical FBI agent (the great Viola Davis, who has a few signature moments) and a Chinese lawman named Chen (Leehom Wang, a cool singer-actor) on the case.