Film Review: A Black Widow Comes Home

Marvel shares new 'Black Widow' trailer ahead of July release date

Black Widow is the latest offering from Marvel Studios starring Scarlett Johansson in the lead role. Black Widow usually runs with a little group of super-powered buddies known as the Avengers, but in this one she is out on her own being reunited with her fake family comprised of Russian spies who had their own super powers or fighting chops. Jac Shaeffer and Ned Benson are the pair who came up with the story, however Eric Pearson actually wrote the screenplay. It then fell to Cate Shortland to actually the direct the film. Johansson is then joined by Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rahas chel Weisz, Ray Winstone, Olga Kurylenko, and William Hurt onscreen. There are some other people involved, but I think I hit the significant ones in my little post.

So this is a flashback story set around the time of Avengers: Civil War and Infinity War. The Avengers have been scattered, and Natasha Romanoff is on the run. The film starts off with her as a kid living with a supposed sister and parents in Ohio, however they were actually Russian operatives who have been found out. They have to make their escape which leads to Natasha being pressganged by the Russian into becoming a hot assassin known as a Black Widow. It turns out that she was just one of a good number of killer babes sent out by the Russians to get some killing done. After a rather harrowing and implausible prologue, the audience catches up with the Johansson version of Natasha who is on the run from the government, who has sent a bunch of burly troops led by Thaddeus Ross, the secretary of state, who looks amazingly like William Hurt, the actor who is cast in the role. She then receives a message from her fake sister, played by Florence Pugh, along with vials of a substance known as Red Dust, which is the antidote to the mind control drugs that are used on the Black Widows to better keep them loyal to the demands of Russian agendas. Once the “sisters” are together again, they find that they need the assistance of their “parents”, played by Harbour and Weisz. Apparently, Harbour’s Alexi Shostakov is also the Russian knock-off of Captain America known as the Red Guardian. Also, Black Widow has a crazy fully armored opponent on her trail. This thing is known as Taskmaster, and it has the ability to mirror the fighting style of an opponent and use it right back against them. Anyway, the whole story then shifts to the bigger mission of destroying the training ground and headquarters of the Black Widows known as the Red Room and the mastermind of it all, General Dreykov.

Now that I made the plot recap probably so unnecessarily long, I can now share some thoughts and impressions about this little cinematic experience. Since Black Widow did not survive the previous Avenger outing, the fact that her fate is known after this film is a bit of a letdown in some ways. The movie could have been more intriguing if it felt more like a continuation of Black Widow’s story rather than merely an opportunity to have her headline her own solo venture. Saying that, there were some things the producers got right. The chemistry between Johansson and Pugh felt pretty genuine. I rather liked Pugh’s Yelena Belova and the ribbing she would give Natasha for the fighting poses and other idiosyncrasies. Once the “family” was together, there were some pretty amusing scenes. Marvel movies do have their fair share of comedic moments, and this one did provide some reason for me to let out a few snickers. The Russian accents seemed to work well enough for me, but I am no expert in such matters.

Basically, the movies placement in the whole MCU canon seems a little problematic, but I may just have a bias about doing movies about characters who we have already seen die onscreen. The cast members all seem pretty solid in their performances. The casting director did their job well enough. There were some pretty decent one-liners to break up the overload of action sequences. The implausible fight scenes were entertaining. They were also ridiculous, but this is a comic book movie so that will have to be forgiven within reason.

Overall, I do not consider a major waste of time to see this film. It may just be a minor waste of time. There were a few elements that worked quite well. The humor and the performances were pretty good, but as mentioned before, once I have seen an onscreen death of a character, my enjoyment of subsequent appearances is just a bit tainted. I am doubtful I will consider this entry into the MCU franchise to be the most memorable.

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