After watching this movie and seeing that WandaVision‘s showrunner Jac Schaeffer – and Ned Benson (Eleanor Rigby) – is one of the people behind the story with Eric Pearson (Godzilla vs. Kong, Thor: Ragnarok, Agent Carter) writing the screenplay. Based on a Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Don Rico this adaptation is directed by Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome) and stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh (Little Women), Rachel Weisz (Disobedience, My Cousin Rachel) & David Harbor (Hellboy, Extraction, Tombstones).
Premise: Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), Natasha Romanoff finds herself on the run and forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Romanoff must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
Review: I may have first watched this movie when a bit sleep deprived but I don’t think that played a role in how uninspiring this movie is to me, and the writing is a big reason for it. Schaeffer is the only writer on this team that’s known to me at this point, but I feel like they didn’t rise to the task. I didn’t have expectations going in yet I feel like this could have been better.
Giving what happens to Natasha in Infinity War and Endgame, a movie set before those event might not have seemed like a good idea. However this movie has a lot of interesting aspects to it. There’s a sleeper cell moment in the beginning of the movie that I feel was a great idea, in particular when you realize that Nat knew, while Yelena didn’t. As interesting as the idea is, they coud have done a bit more with it by contrasting the girl’s carefree family life with Alexei / Red Guardian finishing his mission before joining them thus showing Alexei with a shred of skills.
I also enjoyed the way the black widows are “selected / recruited” for lack of better non-spoilery word. There could have been a better commentary on that if that aspect lasted a bit longer with a clearer idea of what the future widows go through once “recruited.” I’d even go farther by including a scene where a new generation of widows’ first cycle would be the deciding factor for their hysterectomies. But I’m aware of how not family friendly that might be for some, and how some sick people would see that idea as titillating.
Taskmaster is another aspect of the film that could have been better, and I don’t think that a lot would have been needed to achieve that. The action scenes featuring the character are great, maybe a bit spoiled by the teasers and trailers but they are fine. The bulk of them though, doesn’t show enough of his copycat fighting style. It’s mostly hinted at and not showcased enough for me.
These are only a few examples of some of the interesting things that are introduced and only explored on a surface level. We are asked to fill in a lot of blanks, so much so that it feels lazy on the writers’ part.
The acting and the cast is one of the saving grace of the movie. Johansson and Pew do an amazing job, they feel like sisters, and have great chemistry. They work their action scenes extremely well, even if the visual effects doesn’t always back them up as it should. Harbor, O-T Fagbenle and Weisz deliver solid performances with what they’re given. The main cast breathe life to the movie despite being in an uneven story.
Black Widow needed more space maybe a second and / or third film focusing on different aspects of this film. It remains entertaining both being a great intro to Yelena and a good farewell for Natasha.