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black widow

★★★

director: cate shortland (berlin syndrome, lore)

starring: scarlett johansson, florence pugh, rachel weisz and david harbour

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises.

It’s finally here. Well over a year since it was meant to debut on the big screen, we have the twenty fourth, yes twenty fourth film in the MCU and the first of the fourth phase of the franchise. While Black Widow is a good Marvel superhero film ticking the fan boxes of massive action set pieces, heart and humour, the tones and themes explored could have been a little tighter. 

 

In Marvel Studios’ action-packed spy thriller “Black Widow,” Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. 

 

Gotta be said from the outset: Black Widow is one of my favorite Marvel superheroes. Not only is she portrayed by one of the best actors around in Scarlett Johansson, the character is one of the only in the MCU that doesn’t rely on a special suit, super soldier serum or spider bite for her superpowers. She is more human than most MCU superheroes, using her incredible skill set, wits and gritty tenacity to get the job done and thus as an audience member you’re able to relate to her more readily. 

 

And tonally and thematically this is where the first half of this film begins, like some gritty Cold War era spy thriller. Borrowing from history as well as TV shows like The Americans and Killing Eve, the opening action sequence is one of grounded, very human action. This felt like a very bold and a very different Marvel film in its tone and in that it was helmed by a woman no less. This is the kinda movie Black Widow deserved.

 

But as the film progresses unfortunately it falls back to the tried and true Marvel formula. Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t make it any less entertaining or worthy of your time. There are just situations that characters find themselves in where you sense that they’re about to go down a fresh, gritty road and in the end it's played for laughs. Black Widow is still damn entertaining, but you can’t help but shake the feeling of what could have been. 

 

Scarlett Johansson is again magnificent, drawing us into the tortured and troubled world of Black Widow. David Harbour is hilariously obnoxious, rightly played off as a guy who just doesn’t get woman or the world that he now occupies. But the stand out is Florence Pugh. If you don’t know who she is you sure will after this. It’s a tour de force performance, bringing so much depth, emotional intensity and pure ass kickery to the role that promises even greater things if her character gets more screen time. Also, Black Widow has one of the most pivotal end credit scenes in recent MCU memory. DO NOT MISS IT!!!

While Black Widow is a good Marvel superhero film ticking the fan boxes of massive action set pieces, heart and humour, the tones and themes explored could have been a little tighter. 

★★★