US, 2021, Action, Sci-Fi
Director: Cate Shortland
Cast: Scarlett Johansson (Natasha), Florence Pugh (Yelena), David Harbour (Alexei)
Worth the wait?
It took almost two years for MCU fans to enjoy a new feature-length. Black Widow was originally going to premiere on May 1st, 2020, but was delayed several times due to the COVID pandemic crisis. Finally, it was released to the public simultaneously in theaters and on Disney +. Was it worth the wait?. Well, let’s say that the reception from the fans has not been unanimous.
Brief origin and «family»
In 1995 we met a young Natasha, part of a seemingly average middle-class family living in Ohio. Due to some events that we will learn about later, the family has to flee from the United States to Cuba. There, Natasha and «her sister» Yelena are taken away. Both are going to be trained in the mysterious organization Red Room as Black Widows.
We go forward in time and meet an adult Natasha, immediately after the events of Captain America: Civil War (Brothers Russo, 2016). Natasha Romanov, aka Black Widow, is a fugitive from international justice, like all her fellow Avengers who joined Captain America’s side. Yelena is on a mission as Black Widow. When exposed to some gas, she liberates herself from the mental control of the Red Room. This situation will lead to an awkward reunion of Natasha and Yelena and their «family» from Ohio in the middle of the search for the Red Room and the elusive leader Dreykov, with dangerous repercussions for world stability.
In Black Widow, director Cate Shortland tries to blend the action and intrigue of spy movies with the fantasy and humor of the MCU formula with disparate results. The result is a hybrid in that the end is neither one nor the other. This middle-of-the-road approach does not represent that the movie is not entertaining. It is. But the intrigue is absent, and the action scenes, although efficient and somewhat exciting, do not reach the level of the Bourne series. The motorcycle chase blatantly copies some of the footage from Mission Impossible. The script is full of plot holes that even if one disconnects the brain and tries to enjoy the trip, the discrepancies and conveniences are evident. They make use of too many coincidences and situations that do not stand up to closer scrutiny for the story to advance.
Not enough of Taskmaster
While for fans of the MCU, this time, there are no villains with cosmic powers. The main villain brought from the comics is a fan favorite: Taskmaster. The artistic freedom taken with this character may not appeal to some fans (As an avid reader of Marvel comics, I had no problem.) What it is to criticize is the little use of the character. The main villain Dreykov is not imposing enough and, we do not get enough of the Red Room.
Good chemistry but many plot holes.
Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh make a good pair of fake sisters. They show genuine chemistry on screen and, this makes jokes about Johansson’s poses play well. David Harbor does fine for a washed-up Red Guardian. Harbor plays the character with enthusiasm, although his banter isn’t always fun. But this has to do more about the poor dialogues and how it presents his character as a buffoon than Harbour’s performance.
In general, the rhythm of the entire film is continuously moving, doing it enjoyable. But at the same time, it is flat. There are no ups and downs. This flatness makes the film feel a bit disappointing at the time of the resolution. Building momentum in the plot was nonexistent. The story felt like it just stopped. The special effects are solid but not breathtaking. Unlike other MCU movies, the soundtrack does not have an extensive catalog of songs. At least they highlight Don Mclean’s American Pie.
Black Widow is a decent new entry from the MCU entertainment factory. What Black Widow suffers from the most is the weak script and poorly constructed story that doesn’t have high points to remember, but at the same time, doesn’t suffer from low marks either. It is constant in staying stable at a steady, mediocre level. Not good, not bad. The best is the interaction of Johanssen and Pugh. Which, by the way, despite apparently not having superpowers, always come out of some dangerous situations miraculously unscathed. An entertaining blockbuster with the proven Marvel formula, but far from its best.
Johansson and Pugh show good chemistry. Fine action scenes but nothing memorable. Too many plot holes. Consistent in being middle of the pack.