This heist movie is based on a 1980s British TV show, but thanks to director/co-writer Steve McQueen's talent, it has more emotional and sociopolitical resonance than you'd expect from the genre. It doesn't hurt to have a cast this good; in addition to the headliners, Widows also features Robert Duvall, Jackie Weaver, Carrie Coon, and Garret Dillahunt. Dillahunt, especially, continues his string of sympathetic performances, and Tony winner Cynthia Erivo is memorable in a scrappy role. Davis, of course, ably carries the weight as a woman figuring out a life-or-death puzzle on the fly as she mourns her beloved husband ("We have a lot to do, and crying is not on the list"). Debicki shines as the widow with arguably the longest arc, going from kept woman who accepts beatings as part of the deal to becoming an important cog in the movie's ad-hoc criminal machine. The Chicago setting is carefully chosen; the city's troubled reputations of ingrained corruption and street violence are woven into the story's fabric.
However, that fabric has perhaps too many diverse threads for a two-hour-plus tapestry. The political machinations end up feeling like another movie -- it's the kind of subplot that might have played out more powerfully in a miniseries format. The movie's Big Twist feels pretty obvious, and the entire impetus for the story is actually left unaddressed at the end of the film, which is a problem for a heist movie. It's also presented in such short, episodic bursts (probably due to the large number of characters and plot threads) that it can feel choppy. Still, the strong performances, grounded world, and clean, matter-of-fact direction by McQueen easily elevate Widows above most heist movies.