“Black Widow” (2021)

The film “Black Widow” begins in 1995, and focuses on a family of four in Ohio, that are anything, but typical. The father, Alexei, played by Golden Globe nominee David Harbour (Stranger Things), is secretly the Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America. Melina, the woman pretending to be his wife, is a product of The Red Room, a secret Russian location, where young girls are taken and trained to be assassins in the Black Widow program. In the role of Melina is Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener). Her young daughter Natasha (Ever Anderson) knows what the family’s purpose for being in America is, but her younger sister Yelena (Violet McGraw), does not. She will soon learn, as the family is forced to flee, after Alexi steals secret government information, for Dreykov, the vile head of The Red Room, portrayed by two time BAFTA nominee Ray Winstone (Nil by Mouth). Once the family arrives in Cuba, they are separated. Natasha and Yelena are taken by Dreykov as new recruits for The Red Room. Years later, the strong minded, skilled fighter, Romanoff acted by BAFTA winner and two time Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation), thinks she has killed Dreykov by detonating a bomb. Was he actually where she thought he was going to be, or is he still alive?

The events in the film center on what took place between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”  Romanoff is keeping busy staying one step ahead of Secretary of State Ross; in the role of Ross is Oscar winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spiderwoman). He is attempting to bring her to justice, because she, along with the other members of the Avengers, violated the Sokovia Accords; they are a set of legal documents that regulates the powers of those who work for the government, or for groups such as the Avengers.      

In the intervening years, Yelena Belova, portrayed by Oscar nominee Florence Pugh (Little Women), has become a highly skilled assassin. She works as a team leader for the black widows. Belova is in the midst of tracking down Oksana (Michelle Lee), a former widow, who has defected. When Belova catches up with Oksana, during a struggle, Oksana releases a chemical gas, known as red dust, which alters Belova’s mental perception. The gas has awakened her from the mind control she is under, and she no longer is forced to do things that she doesn’t want to. As Oksana lays dying, Belova removes the tracker embedded in her leg, and runs off into hiding with a handful of red dust vials.

 Romanoff’s desire, is to get off the grid and stay there, so she can figure things out. Helping her is Mason played by Emmy nominee O-T Fagbenie (The Handmaid’s Tale). He sets her up with documentation, including multiple new identities, and a place to live, in Norway, that is twenty minutes from the nearest town. Romanoff’s self-imposed isolation, doesn’t go according to plan. One evening, she leaves for the town, to go get gas for a generator that has blown. While in route, she is attacked. She thinks Secretary Ross has caught up with her, but it is not him. Romanoff is confronted by the high tech, armored, Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), who has the ability to mimic anyone’s fighting style. Therefore, no matter what Romanoff tries, the Taskmaster matches it, making victory impossible. The Taskmaster, however, is not after Romanoff. Instead it is the set of red dust vials that Belova mailed to Romanoff, at a safe house in Budapest, that she wants. The vials, along with the rest of her mail, was left by Mason, but Romanoff, having no interest in it, hadn’t even looked at it. Romanoff and Yelena meet up at the safe house. After some fighting and a wild car chase through the streets of Budapest, the siblings come to an understanding. They plan to team up so they can destroy the Red Room, free the other widows from their mind control, and kill Dreykov, once and for all. Will they succeed?  

 Trivia buffs take note: The character of Natasha Romanoff was created by the late, world renowned Stan Lee, scripter Don Rico and artist Don Heck. She first appeared in April 1964, in Marvel Comics Tales of Suspense # 52. This is the ninth time that Scarlett Johansson has portrayed the character of Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff. There were a number of other actresses considered for the role of Yelena Belova, chief among them were BAFTA winner Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). Two time Oscar winner Chloé Zhao (Nomadland), was approached to direct the film, but she opted to direct “Eternals” instead. “Black Widow” became the first film to be released theatrically and on Disney+ streaming service simultaneously. Olga Kurylenko was among the finalists to portray Wonder Woman, before the role was ultimately given to Gal Gadot. 

“Black Widow” was directed by Cate Shortland (LORE). The screenplay was co-written by Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok), and two time Emmy nominee Jac Schaeffer (WandaVision), based on a story by Ned Benson (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby). The film premiered in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2021. Parts action, adventure, and Sci-Fi, it has a runtime of a 134 minutes.  

Pugh’s Yelena Belova is one of the highlights of the film, and she has already reprised the character in three episodes of the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” which stars two time Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Town), and BAFTA nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). “Black Widow” is a well balanced film; it has its moments of darkness, plenty of fast paced action, but also uses levity to break up the tension when appropriate. The on-screen chemistry between Johansson and Pugh was excellent and helped to elevate the movie. Overall, this should appeal to fans of the “Black Widow” comic books, the previous films featuring Johansson as Romanoff, and those who like action packed films, that also contain a more involved storyline.  

                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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