Directed by Steve McQueen | Written by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen
This film has it all. A solid director and a fantastic cast with Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall (he steals perhaps the best scenes in the film), Daniel Kaluuya and Michelle Rodriguez. Yet it seems this film, with such a great premise and cast, falls apart due to what I can only deduce as a horrible decision in editing.
Here come the spoilers.
This film immediately thrusts you into the lives of wives of criminals. We see them getting ready for their job and saying their goodbyes. We get quickly thrown into a robbery gone wrong and suddenly the cops shoot up a van which explodes and kills the entire crew. Then we see the women going through the funerals, the wakes and grieving. Then they start to discover their husbands kept more secrets than they realised. One loses her store and Veronica (Viola Davis) receives a visit from a local gang family who want their money back – money that her husband, Harry (Liam Neeson), apparently stole. The thing that doesn’t ring true, is that certain characters are expected to know what to do. For example, Veronica’s driver is given a key and an address for a security deposit box. She goes to the box and finds a notebook containing notes on previous robberies, plus details of the next job Veronica’s husband planned, but never executed. How did Veronica know she should trade this to the people Harry robbed? It is bad when you can figure out what the ending is going to be but then the film gives you the big reveal about halfway though! This was a huge editing mistake. By revealing that someone didn’t die, it gives away the big reveal that should have come as a complete surprise to both Veronica and the viewers. Also, why didn’t Veronica try to recruit the fourth woman harder in the first place and only go to her when she was desperate to find a new driver?
This is where re-editing the film can improve it. Take the reveals of him being alive and just edit them all out of the film. The scene where Veronica discovers he is alive in the other woman’s house (with his new baby) is not needed. They spent a scene filling up soil into Tupperware containers to practice carrying the weight of the money. They should use this again. Have Veronica switch the bags in anticipation of possibly being double crossed. Then when Harry reveals himself to be alive to Veronica, she is shocked (as would be the audience) and we can see the flashback of him killing his crew. She surrenders the money and he shoots her. He leaves her for dead and drives off. He then gets a call from one of the bags where there’s a phone. We see Veronica get up and reveal she wore a bulletproof vest. He stops to check the bags and realises they are all filled with Tupperware containers. She tells him to open the glovebox and there is a gun – the revolver that killed Duvall’s character. He picks it up and asks her what it is. She tells him it is payback for leaving four widows behind. He says the fourth woman is not a widow and that the baby is his new son. Then police lights surround him and Veronica says goodbye. Harry has not only been outsmarted but also totally defeated. Then show a shot of the other woman at home with her baby, bags packed, waiting for Harry to come and take them away. But she hears news of the murder and the shoot-out with the cops that resulted in Harry being killed. The flask is then seen on the table as she breaks down to cry and we get the reveal that this flask was what was in the gift box when their son died. That scene is only now shown to us.
This film could easily have been a 9 out of 10. It needed better editing in a better planned heist by Veronica, improving upon Harry’s notes which can only be done with better writing.
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