Movies are BACK!
REJOICE….THE MOVIES ARE BACK!
BLACK WIDOW (***)
A new superhero movie has opened and it is a dandy. Black Widow has great action sequences, two great performances, along with several very good ones, and enough high voltage action to be three films! This is a sure sign the film industry is back, and though streaming has forever changed the face of film, big releases like this will always be best seen on the big screen.
Cast as the Black Widow in the Avengers films, we know going into this film that Scarlett Johansson’s character was killed off in Avengers – Endgame (2019), sacrificing herself for what she believes is the greater good. So going into this film, we know right away it is the origin story of how she became the Black Widow before her demise.
This film is exciting, with nearly non-stop action. Johansson and co-star Florence Pugh are both terrific in their roles, and there is the added surprise of Stranger Things’ David Harbour as Black Widow’s father, himself a one-time Russian superhero.
We open in Ohio in 1998, where two sisters are playing outside in a beautiful landscape, sun shining, pure Americana. The mother, Melina (Rachel Weisz), is tending to the younger sister who has fallen off her bike when the father, Alexei (Harbour), returns home to tell them they have seconds to grab what they want inside the house and leave. Seconds. They manage to escape, flying to Cuba where en route we learn that they are Russian intelligence agents hiding in America.
Fast forward 21 years. The elder daughter, Natasha (Johansson), is on the run. She eludes capture, heading to a remote outpost in Norway, where she can hide easily.
Meanwhile her little sister, Yelena, (Pugh) is a trained killer in Morocco. The two sisters meet up in Budapest, and are just getting to know one another when they are back on the run again. Once safe, the girls slowly become sisters again, teasing, joking and fighting together with their formidable skills.
Hurled into one life-threatening event after another, they never seem to be free of danger, and it further ramps up when their parents re-join the party after a long separation. Some of the best scenes in the film happen when the four are together, very touching family moments as so much time has been lost and they all know it.
The action finds them, of course and it is not long before all four are hurtling through the air, performing jaw-dropping acts of courage and working as a team/family.
Johansson does great work as the confused, struggling Natasha, but the film belongs to young Pugh, who is fast becoming one of the finest young actors in modern film. She thunders across the screen superbly and yet has the good sense to bring real intimacy to her scenes with her sister and parents. The two girls have a terrific chemistry together that works every time they are onscreen, and must have delighted director Cate Shortland, who beautifully blends the epic action and fury of the pair into the smaller family scenes.
Is Black Widow perfect? Heck, no. The plot is flimsy and paper thin, but the actors and Shortland do their best to give it flesh and muscle.
A welcome addition to the Marvel family.