Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/USA, 2018. Regency Enterprises, See-Saw Films, Film4, New Regency Pictures. Screenplay by Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen, based on the miniseries by Lynda La Plante. Cinematography by Sean Bobbitt. Produced by Iain Canning, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Emile Sherman. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Adam Stockhausen. Costume Design by Jenny Eagan. Film Editing by Joe Walker. Toronto International Film Festival 2018. Washington Film Critics Awards 2018.
A heist goes wrong and kills the thieves involved, leaving their wives alone with their grief: Viola Davis loses the robbery’s mastermind (Liam Neeson) in the explosion that occurs after police open fire on the getaway van, Michelle Rodriguez, Carrie Coon and Elizabeth Debicki lose their spouses as well, but their problems are only beginning. The money that was stolen was being taken from other bad guys, who have come around to Davis and told her that she has a month to cough up two million dollars or the consequences will be grave. She recruits Rodriguez and Debicki and convinces them to do something they’ve never done before, preparing for another robbery that will pay back the shady men while providing a bit of profit for them to split as well. Along with these characters, Steve McQueen and Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s expert screenplay adaptation of Lynda La Plante’s 1983 miniseries also includes a local politician (Colin Farrell) running for alderman against volatile Brian Tyree Henry while feeling ambivalent about the negative influence of his old school father (Robert Duvall), plus the induction of a hairstylist (Cynthia Erivo) who becomes the ladies’ driver because she needs the cash. What seem like random details in the many scenes that lead up to the plot’s central action sequence are all a part of the film’s fundamental architecture, every bit of information feels like it pays off beautifully, every character is vibrant and the scenes of emotional drama are contrasted nicely with exciting (and often gruesome) violence.