WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

The death of a loved one is always difficult. The grief can be overwhelming. The loss can feel like a hole impossible to heal.

Veronica knows how crippling grief can be. Years ago, she lost her son. Now, she's wearing black again—this time for her husband, Harry, a successful criminal whose luck finally ran out. A job went awry. The police found his hideaway. Dozens of bullets and several explosions later, he and his crew were gone: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

But some of those ashes, Veronika learns, were once a pile of money—$2 million, in fact, the campaign war chest of Jamal Manning, would-be alderman for Chicago's impoverished 18th District. Jamal, a former gang leader, saw that money as a ticket to respectability, a way to legitimize himself. Now that it's gone, though, his old tactics may come in handy.

Jamal visits Veronica in her well-appointed pad and takes stock of the place—her books, her closets of clothes, her pampered pooch. He tells her he wants his money back, and he swears he'll get it from her even if he has to carve her up to do so. The money might've gone up in smoke. But to Jamal, it seems like Veronica's up to her earlobes in pawnable accessories, the spoils of her late husband's lucrative career as a criminal. He'll get his money from her, even if she has to sell everything she owns. She'll either give him cold, hard cash, or she'll be a cold, hard corpse.

But Veronica—who actually doesn't own any of the stuff Jamal sees—wonders a third option might be in play. See, before Harry left her, he also left her a notebook, one loaded with the details of every job he ever pulled and every job he didn't have a chance to complete. And Veronica finds a detailed outline for what might've been Harry's final heist, worth $5 million.

One catch, though: It's a four-man gig. Four experienced crooks who know how to crack safes and drive fast and, if necessary, shoot straight.

But could it be a four-woman job, too?

So Veronica tentatively makes plans to meet with the widows from Harry's old crew: Businesswoman Linda. Beautiful Alice. Shy, reluctant, Amanda. Sure, Veronica was never involved in Harry's business. But she's desperate now. And desperation can be quite the motivator.

Perhaps the rest of the team's surviving significant others are feeling equally desperate, she muses. If Veronica can just contact them, maybe they can pool their resources, procure the necessary gear and close the cover on Harry's notebook. Veronica can pay her debts and start a new life. Maybe the other widows can, too.

Grief always cuts deep. But if Veronica can pull off this caper—the first and last of her crime career—maybe she can keep the cuts strictly metaphorical.

Positive Elements

Widows feels part Robin Hood tale, part female-empowerment fable. The four women we meet here steal from the rich (and corrupt) and give—well, mainly to themselves. Granted, their methods aren't the best, but they're not after beach houses in Bali: They're looking for ways to provide for their families or to stay out of sexual servitude. For each, the money is a means toward worthwhile ends. (Which, it should be said, doesn't ultimately justify their illegal means.)

Spiritual Content

Jamal runs his campaign from a church (complete with a showy crucifix hanging on a wall). When his political opponent, Jack Mulligan, stops in for a visit, Jack calls him on it—telling him that his choice of headquarters is a violation of church and state.

Both, however, vie for the endorsement of a powerful, influential megachurch pastor, Rev. Wheeler. We hear part of one of his moving sermons as Jamal waits to talk with him; the ensuing conversation suggests that Wheeler is about as sincere about his faith as Jamal is about being an honest public servant.

All of the film's funerals take place in various churches, with pictures of the deceased gracing caskets and nearby tables. Linda, one of Veronica's team members, prays at a Catholic altar with her children before the women's heist. When Jamal confronts Veronica to get his money back, he quotes the Bible, asking Veronica to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."

Sexual Content

Before Veronica contacts another widow named Alice, the latter explores being a high-end escort to make ends meet. Her mom actually suggests the "career change"—a career that she apparently knows plenty about. And when Alice balks, telling her mother, "I'm not gonna sleep with men I don't know," Mom reminds her that she was sleeping with boys when she was just 15. "Those boys didn't pay me," Alice snaps back.

Alice does become an escort, but her very first client pays to make their relationship exclusive. We see the two in fairly explicit sex scene, one that includes breast nudity. The two kiss passionately, but it's clear that the man, David, feels a sense of ownership over Alice. He often emphaszies often their financial arrangement and suggesting that, if she left him, it'd all be gone.

We see sortid pictures of an older man and a younger woman engaged in all manner of sexual hijinx. Both are obviously naked (we see the woman's breasts in almost all the pics), and in one photo she holds a crop and seems to tickle the man's nose with it. (We later learn that the young female in the picture was actually the man's niece.)

In flashback, Veronica and Harry smooch erotically in their shared bed, and Veronica steps into a shower already occupied by Harry. They talk, in sometimes crude terms, about their lovemaking.

Linda and a virtual stranger, both grieving the recent deaths of their respective partners, fall into each other's arms and kiss passionately before Linda finally pulls away, shocked and ashamed.

Pinup girls adorn a wall. (The camera doesn't get close enough to give more than a suggestion of their presence, though.) We hear a racist statement about how one group of people "can't stop making babies." We see Veronica and her friends wrapped in towels in a sauna. Some women wear cleavage-baring tops.

Violent Content

Widows' deceased male criminals die in a particularly violent confrontation with law enforcement. One is shot in the gut during the actual heist, and he bleeds and suffers in the back of the van as Harry drives. (The police are hot on their tail and fire dozens of rounds at them; the robbers throw things out the back of the van—including one of its broken back doors—to discourage their pursuit, and one cruiser does indeed crash spectacularly.)

Harry and the rest seemingly make it safely back to their hideout, but SWAT forces actually have the place surrounded: When the garage door opens, the officers open up withering gunfire, and eventually the van just explodes—incinerating everyone inside. We don't see the aftermath, but it is telling that every funeral features a closed casket.

Jamal's brother and muscle man, Jatemme, is a cold-blooded killer. He guns down two of his own gang members after they fail to prevent a robbery—one in the head, the other in the back after he tells the supposed survivor to run. He has a man apparently beaten to death, mailing the victim's ring to Veronica as proof that he means business.

But Jatemme's worst act of violence isn't even lethal. He visits a partially paralyzed bowling alley owner (who apparently owes his handicap to a previous visitation), throws him out of his wheelchair and stabs him repeatedly in the legs and hips and side, playfully discerning exactly where his nerves start working. The man's left a bloody mess by the time Jatemme's done. And Jatemme tells the paralyzed man he's lucky that the gangster was ordered not to kill him.

Alice is slapped several times, and she slaps someone else. And when we first see her, she bears the bruises from her abusive husband. (He tells her to put some makeup on the injury, because it makes him feel bad to look at it. "It makes me feel bad, too," she counters.)

Several people get shot and killed. Another guy dies in a gory car collision. Veronica's dog is held aloft by its neck, and its life is threatened. A security guard is overpowered and Tasered. Alice goes to a gun auction to buy several revolvers. She pretends to be a battered mail-order bride to get some help from a more experienced gun shopper, and when Alice's mark hesitates, the guy's daughter says, "You always say that guns are a girl's best friend."

Crude or Profane Language

We hear more than 60 f-words, about 25 s-words and two uses of the c-word. We also hear "a--," "b--ch," "d--n," "h---," "p-ss," "n---er," "p---y" and "d--k." God's name is misused about five times, and Jesus' name is abused thrice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Harry and Veronica both drink from Harry's ever-present flask. We see that flask on a cabinet after his funeral.

When Veronica first meets her future criminal cohorts, they sip champagne at a swanky spa. Alice meets David for the first time in a bar. Bars and lounges also serve as meeting points for other gatherings, too, and many people drink there. We see an ashtray filled with cigarette butts.

Other Negative Elements

After Linda's husband dies, we learn that he had actually been stealing money from her business for years to pay for his gambling habit—culminating in his gambling away the business itself. (Linda only learns of his duplicity when she walks into the store and unexpectedly finds men repossessing everything in it.)

We see a great deal of corrupt politicking, especially by Jamal's political opponent, Jack Mulligan. The man's family is so entrenched in Chicago's notoriously corrupt political machine that he and his father see their ascension to local political power almost as a birthright. We also hear that Jack's under investigation for embezzlement and for taking lots of kickbacks (which Jamal also covets).

Jack's father, Tom, expresses racist attitudes (and uses correspondingly defamatory language). Others make some crass racial statements, too.

Conclusion

Rarely do we see action flicks as awards-season favorites. But Widows, if the buzz can be believed, may be the exception. Directed by Steve McQueen (who also helmed the multi-Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave) and featuring the reliably mesmerizing Viola Davis (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner herself), Widows deals with a bevy of important, attention-grabbing issues, from political corruption to police brutality to the many ways women can be overlooked, undermined and abused by men.

Despite the presence of all those issues, and despite the obvious talent found here, this thriller never truly transcends its genre. In fact, you could argue that, at times, it sinks below it.

Heist movies are almost always problematic, given that, by definition, they're about people breaking the law. But many, like the Ocean's movies, shoot for a PG-13 rating. They're not exactly family movies. But they're crafted in such a way that families could see them if they really wanted to.

Widows is a different beast entirely, filled with sex and blood and language galore. It's meant, I suppose, to make the flick feel more authentic. But really, is authenticity a huge issue when the plot involves four characters who've probably never even shoplifted trying to pull off an incredibly complex heist in a matter of days?

Yes, aesthetically, Widows is perhaps a cut above the standard heist flick. But despite its impressive pedigree, Widows is ultimately snared in its own web.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlins; Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli; Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner; Cynthia Erivo as Belle O'Reilly; Colin Farrell as Jack Mulligan; Brian Tyree Henry as Jamal Manning; Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme Manning; Jacki Weaver as Agnieska; Lukas Haas as David; Cynthia Erivo as Belle; Carrie Coon as Amanda; Robert Duvall as Tom Mulligan; Liam Neeson as Harry Rawlins

Director

Steve McQueen ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 16, 2018

On Video

February 5, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!