Black Widow (2021)


I finally took time to see Black Widow. I know I'm late to the party, but I thought I should see it before the recent release of Hawkeye on Disney Plus. It's the first Phase 4 film in the MCU, diving into the elusive backstory of the titular super spy. This is a SPOILER-FREE review. Is this film a tangled web of intrigue or just a tangled mess?

Director Cate Shortland (The Berlin Syndrome) has experience with smaller independent films, giving her a better grasp on character-driven stories. She shows how a big-budget 007-esque spy caper doesn't need to rely on action to be good. She utilizes the characters by making the family unit the heart of the film. By putting them first, their many layers have time to be explored so they all get intimate moments in between fight scenes. The action is staged well, with very impressive set pieces to behold. Filming took place in Norway, Morocco, Hungary; Great Britain; and the USA. Each country is gorgeously filmed conveying its beauty.

Eric Pearson wrote the script. His previous work includes Thor Ragnarok (2017) and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021). He knows how to write larger-than-life stories but was smart to make this a more personal one for our heroine. He creates a story very reminiscent of James Bond films with that MCU feel we love.

Scarlett Johansson is great, as always in the role. Like the other Avengers, she IS Black Widow at this point and anyone else in the part would be odd. lt's the story Black Widow fans have been waiting for.

Florence Pugh, of Midsommar (2019), is Yelena Belova. She's a surrogate sister-figure to Romanoff who was trained in the Red Room as a Black Widow too and assigned to the same undercover "family" as kids. They grew up with the same traumatic upbringing. Her performance as the brutally sincere sister, vicious super-spy, and heartbroken lonely lost little girl steals the show. I'm eagerly awaiting future MCU appearances from her.

David Harbour is Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian, the Russian equivalent to Captain America and a father figure to Romanoff and Belova. He's struggling to reconnect with his daughters, trying to set things right. Harbour gives a hilarious performance as the bumbling dad with emotional moments in between. He is perfectly cast here.

Rachel Weisz is Melina Vostokoff, a seasoned Black Widow and a mother-figure to Romanoff and Belova. She's also one of the Red Room's leading scientists. Compared to her comic book counterpart, supervillain Iron Maiden, the film's version is more ambiguous and layered, with a deadpan personality and no sense of humour, with laughable results. She's also more affectionate toward her foster kids rather than dismissive like in the comics. The welcome changes make sense for the narrative as the family is the main focus. Her portrayal of a strong-willed woman questioning if she's doing the right thing has poignancy only Weisz could bring to the table.

Unfortunately, there's an elephant in the room needing to be addressed. I didn't like how they handled Task Master. They didn't do the character justice. Instead, they diminished and underused a compelling villain like Iron Man 3. I sincerely hope they make that correction a la The Mandarin in less than ten years.

Overall, I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. They took the time to give centre stage to a character who deserves a solo film and delivered. Rather than a blatant cash grab, it feels like they attempted to make a quality film expanding on the Black Widow character above all else. It fits in nicely in the MCU with plenty of references for loyal fans. Ultimately this film has become a victim of circumstance. Many might write it off but it does deserve a fair chance. I honestly wish I could have caught this at the cinema to get the full experience of the amazing action sequences. Granted, the film feels like it should have been made five years ago but it's a fun, hilarious, action-packed spectacular adventure. Despite the predictability, they still spun a tangled web of intrigue. Make sure to wait for both end credits scenes too. And remember, in Mother Russia, Task Masters you!

Grade Medium Popcorn



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Hello world! I'm MR FLIXTER!!! And I just love motion pictures! I'm a film critic for Horror Buzz but I love ALL films genres. That's why I'm here!