Movie Review: Black Widow (2021)


Title: Black Widow
Release Date: July 9, 2021
Director: Cate Shortland
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

A standalone movie for Black Widow was long overdue (even before it was postponed by the COVID pandemic) and suitably the bulk of this movie takes place in 2016, just after Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) goes on the run for violating the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War. But the movie also has a prologue set in 1995 where we learn that as a child Natasha was lived as a surrogate daughter of undercover Russian agents posing as normal family in Ohio (why Russia would have undercover agents in the US just after the fall of the USSR, I don’t know, but the geopolitical realities of the world and the Marvel Universe don’t always match up).

In 2016, Natasha learns that the Red Room, the secret Russian program that uses mind control to turn girls and young women into assassins called Widows, is still active.  As a result she has to reunited with her “sister” Yelena (Florence Pugh, whose mix of humor and hidden vulnerability make her the MVP of the movie), “father” Alexei Shostakov (a super soldier known as Red Guardian played with chaotic glee by David Harbour), and “mother” Melina Vostokoff (a former Widow and scientists played by the criminally underused Rachel Weisz).

The better part of the movie is fighting and action sequences, perhaps even more so than your typical Marvel movie.  I tend to like the slower, more thoughtful types of scenes in between the fighting.  Still, Black Widow does a great job of developing it’s story of this “fake family” coming together to work out their differences and solve a problem in a way that feels natural when it could’ve been cheezy.  And while this is a popcorn movie, the underlying theme of young women and girls suffering abuse in an uncaring world is a terrifying reality.

Rating: ***

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