Black Widow (2021)

black widow poster 2021 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visual: 8/10

Better when it is being a spy movie, good cast

Missed opportunities involving Russian attempts to counter the Avengers, last act attempt to be an MCU movie was too much

Movie Info

Movie Name: Black Widow

Studio: Marvel Studios

Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  July 3, 2021 (Taormine Film Festival)/July 7, 2021 (UK)/July 9, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

black widow vs taskmaster scarlett johansson

Taskmaster plays a mean game of “Simon Says”

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run for breaking the Sokovia Accords requiring her to turn herself in following Captain America’s battle with Iron Man.  When she receives a package from her former “sister” Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), she is attacked by an operative called Taskmaster.  Natasha learns that Dreykov (Ray Winstone) and his notorious Red Room wasn’t destroyed as she believed and Black Widow operatives are hidden all over the planet.  Teaming with Yelena, Natasha must enter her past and locate the “parents” who raised her (David Harbour and Rachel Weisz) to find Dreykov and stop him forever…but no one ever escapes the Red Room.

Directed by Cate Shortland, Black Widow is a Marvel Comics action-adventure movie.  Following Spider-Man:  Far from Home in 2019, the film is the first entry in the Phase Four of the MCU series (and the 24th entry) and the first film of the series released after COVID-19.  The film simultaneously premiered on Disney+ (with a premium fee) and received above average reviews and a strong box office.

black widow red guardian david harbour rachel weisz

I need to get back to Hawkins!

COVID-19 shut everything down, but movies were one of the industries that took the biggest hits.  No contact, no crowds = no movies.  The MCU which has built on a continuous stream of films had to rely on the Disney+ TV series to fill the void.  WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki provided a bit of a bridge between Spider-Man:  Far from Home and Black Widow, and it is nice to be back in the theater.  A *****spoiler alert***** is in effect for the rest of the review.

Black Widow does best when it isn’t an MCU movie but simply a spy movie.  While the big explosions and supervillains are necessary, I liked when the movie was more intimate and bringing down the Red Room organizations than the high tech bases, fortunate coincidences in layouts as the characters are able to keep track of who they are targeting through a giant complex…and always ending up near them.  The movie does provide thrills and tries to give Natasha a big story, but plot twists (I use the term lightly) involving Taskmaster and betrayals can be seen miles away…they seem below the movie and the character.

black widow costume taskmaster dreykov ray winstone

…and the most unshocking reveal

I cannot fault any of the acting.  I always felt that Scarlett Johansson’s character didn’t seem very in tune with the comic book character, but the movie tries to amend some of that by giving her more of a backstory and direction (I wish this movie was before Avengers:  Endgame rather than following it).  Florence Pugh helps prove she is a star in her own sense (though her accent is a bit heavy at times).  David Harbour is what the movie needed for comic relief and Rachel Weisz is underused as Melina.  Ray Wistone is always a good blowhard and the movie has a small role by William Hurt returning as Thunderbolt Ross (leading to a weird, unexplained release of Black Widow which hopefully will be explained somewhere).  The movie also features the lead in to the Hawkeye Disney+ series and includes a cameo by Julia Louis Dreyfus reprising her Falcon and the Winter Soldier role of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine.  The biggest change of course is Taskmaster who is revealed (un-shockingly) to be Dreykov’s daughter played by Olga Kurylenko…I hope that the character gets a better shot in the future.

black widow natasha yelena scarlett johansson florence pugh

Ready to take over, “sis”?

Visually, the movie is a Marvel movie, but without true super-powered superheroes it becomes almost Marvel doing Jason Bourne or more aptly Mission:  Impossible.  The reason that it is more Mission:  Impossible than Jason Bourne is that a lot of the physics and action sequences require a lot of disbelief.  They are big and booming, but unrealistic.  It makes them fun for the big screen, but once again, I would have liked a tighter and more “thrill” based film for the character.

Black Widow is a nice return to the theater.  It did feel like it missed some opportunities involving the Russian side of superheroes (there’s a references to Crimson Dynamo as a joke and a cameo by a character who is supposed to be Ursa Major).  The Avengers isn’t the only game out there, and I hope that future MCU entries like Shang-Chi and The Eternals explore this even more.  Despite not being a big fan of the character, the movie was a nice escape and a good reentry to the big screen world of movies in the theater…let’s hope it thrives and continues.  Black Widow is followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September of 2021.

Preceded By:

Spider-Man:  Far from Home (2019)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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