When their husbands die in a robbery gone south, three widows find their lives utterly upended, their futures at the mercy of their husbands' poor decisions, corrupt politicians, and vicious criminals. Working together they plan an audacious heist they just might be able to pull off, but with its focus not on the delight of planning but the brutal reality of the women's world, will Widows get a sequel?
It's easy to see how an effervescent charmer of a series like the Oceans 11 capers would continue, each film a different job with a familiar crew of lovable rouges. But Widows, which is in theaters on Nov. 16, goes a darker route. The heist is nearly incidental to director Steve McQueen's character study of women stuck in a world working against them in every way possible.
With an amazing cast including Michelle Rodriguez and Viola Davis, the film seems like a slam-dunk hit, but that doesn't necessarily translate into sequel potential. In the film Viola Davis plays Veronica, a retired teacher married to Liam Neeson's career criminal. When he and his crew are killed in a van explosion on the job, she's stuck with the $2 million bill and an impossible deadline to pay it back to the operator he stole from. After reaching out to the other women screwed over by their husbands' involvement, they plan an audacious heist.
The film is based on the 1983 BBC television series of the same name, with four women coming together and facing off police pressure and rival gangs to take over their husbands' criminal operation. There's clear material to follow up with, should McQueen and co-writer Gillian Flynn want to do so — the first season of the British show ended with a shocking twist, and the second season had the ladies track down the man responsible for their husbands' deaths. In fact, the show was so popular there was a sequel series 10 years later called She's Out, following up on the character correlating to Davis' Veronica as she brings together four cellmates from a prison stint to pull off another job.
But while everyone involved with the project feels incredibly strongly about Widows importance, neither McQueen nor Flynn or Davis have mentioned a sequel. Speaking to The Independent, McQueen's actually been disturbed by the mostly-male critical focus on the film, noting that while reviews have been uniformly great, they're not paying attention to the right elements. "Men are engaged with it because it’s a thriller, but I think women are also engaged with it because they’re seeing themselves for the first time in certain situations they’ve never seen themselves in before." He gets right down to the point about the heist being secondary to the relationships a moment later, saying: “That’s why we need more women critics, it’s a fact!"
Both McQueen and Davis have passion projects lined up hinging on Widows doing well enough for them to have the clout they need to get them off the ground. According to a Variety interview with Davis' husband and production company co-founder Julius Tennon, if the film succeeds, Davis can move ahead on any of several projects, including a drama about the Kingdom of Dahomey's all-female military unit, or a biopic about Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Deadline Hollywood reports that in a British television interview McQueen, possibly joking, said "I want to do a musical. I want to make myself happy. Right now, [the world] is dark, it’s heavy, there’s no ifs, buts, maybes about it, it’s so unsure and uncertain and I think I need to shake off the blues and make us all happy.” The director's already moved ahead on another side-step from filmmaking, taking thousands of portraits of British schoolchildren.
Widows may not have a sequel in the works, but its success could open a lot of potential doors for the futures of its creators.