Cert 15 129mins Stars 3
An Oscar winning director has reinvented a famous TV heist series and left me feeling robbed.
Lynda La Plante’s famous 1983 series saw a trio of widows deciding to pull a criminal raid for themselves after their gangster husbands are killed during a robbery.
Brit director Steve McQueen has transferred the story from white London to racially diverse Chicago, a city as crime ridden and corrupt as it was in the days of Al Capone.
And in crossing the Atlantic McQueen has used his art-house sensibility to turn it into a bleak and sombre slog, in a similar manner to his previous film, 12 Years A Slave.
This is far removed from the glossy fun of Sandra Bullock’s recent caper, Ocean’s 8. Even with plot twists from co-writer Gillian Flynn which are as preposterous as those in her 2014 hit film, Gone Girl, this lacks the necessary sense of gleeful mischief to carry them off.
There’s no faulting the performances of Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez as the wives who are pushed towards criminality, and there’s serious strength of depth in the supporting cast which includes Colin Farrell, Cynthia Erivo, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson.
It all starts very promisingly with ten minutes of kisskiss bangbang, and there are some bravura scenes, such as a tense interrogation in a gym, and a wonderfully staged conversation in a car.
But there are too few scenes with this type of energy to sustain our interest, and it’s a long plod to the heist.
From Turner Prize-winning artist to Hollywood glory, McQueen has explored the issues of violence and emotional isolation, and this essay on the failures of the American Dream contains many cynical swipes at the dehumanising nature of capitalism.
And as McQueen fails to resolve the tension between between following his artistic muse and finding a tone which suits the trashy source material, he unfailingly leans towards the former.
And McQueen is now so expert at making us experience the alienation of his characters, we unintentionally become detached from the drama, leaving us wallowing in the women’s considerable grief and despair.