I'm not the killer little girls call their hero.
Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes Stinger rating: A- (Selena Meyer? Yes, please)
What's it about? Do you remember that place that turned Natasha Romanoff into a top-shelf assassin who would stop at nothing to finish the job? The same place that ripped out all her lady parts damning her to a life void of family? The place that made Jennifer Lawrence drop trou at the head of the class? Well, Romanoff does, mostly, and in the midst of running from the US government after what went down (literally?) in Sokovia, she teams up with her long-lost family to blow that place, known as the Red Room, straight to Hell. Which is extra challenging, because, you know, it only exists in the clouds. Huh-what?
What works: The action is effing ridiculous, frankly, and in the best way possible. It starts chaotic and basically never lets up. Maybe I've been watching too much Cobra Kai (honestly, any amount of Cobra Kai is too much Cobra Kai), but the budget for Black Widow seemed to be pinned at f--k it, why not? [Cobra Kai has the production values of a mid 90s porno]. From the bridge battle with Taskmaster, that dope car chase through typically narrow European streets, the prison extraction/avalanche orgy, all the way to the nauseating mid-air finale, the action is not only plentiful but all fairly inspired, too.
What doesn't: I know I'm in the minority, but the whole 'quirky family' thing wore immediately thin with me. I was on board with each character separately (each is well cast, and I won't pick a favorite screw you), but the collective family and their consistent bickering reeked of some faceless Mouse House executive demanding more squabbling (after the test audience comprised solely of my deceased grandmother happened to mention that she enjoyed the family hijinks). Look, I'm all for levity, but it all felt...disingenuous.
Yays: Step aside giant metal scream-machine from the first Thor, Taskmaster is the coolest looking Marvel villain ever. That suit is impossibly cool, even if the hoodie component is unintentionally hilarious (seriously, you're wearing head-to-toe metallic body armor...and you're trying to look casual? comfortable? edgy?). Harbour seems to be having fun running around in slo-motion, and I'm here for every frame of it. So is Florence Pugh, who kicks a fair amount of ass as BDubbs little sis. While we're talking about asses getting kicked, the stuntwork is stellar, with people being whipped into the corner of walls with (careful/)wreckless abandon. I'm also going to throw a cheer Fanny Longbottom's way, because it's the right thing to do. And finally, in a moderately thankless role (overall), ScarJo gives Black Widow a proper send off, even if no one *really* cares.
Boos: We tried watching this as a family, and my daughter freaked the Hell out when 'mom' got shot. I went full-on Dad-mode, telling her It's fine while my wife shot me the dirtiest of dirty looks. F--king realistic violence, I tells ya. Can I be honest with you? Anti-dote is ridiculous. You're in the middle of murdering someone and you get hit with a Fresh Cut Roses Yankee Candle and we're immediately cool? Um, no. There were points where things might have got a little convoluted, and I had to pause things and explain to my son exactly what the heck was happening. I realize this is a familiar whine round these parts, but good God why was this movie almost two and a half hours long? I don't know who that cool-ass guy was who gets our girl hooked up with everything a rouge spy needs on zero notice, but I'm fairly certain he needs to be paid more. And I'm not talking forints (unless that's somehow slang for boobs). And finally, are you telling me I have to watch Hawkeye to see more Pugh?