Review: Black Widow

Marvel’s Black Widow is one of the tent pole films that were shelved during the global pandemic. 15 months after the original release date, Black Widow’s solo film is finally here. Audiences are ready to learn more about Natasha, her family, and what she was up when she wasn’t saving the world. 

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run from Secretary Ross and his army. Being on the run forced Natasha to confront her past. She has team up with her sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) and parental figures Melina (Rachel Weisz) and Alexei (David Harbour).The group sets out to find the mysterious Red Room and stop Dreykov (Ray Winstone). To stop them, Dreykov has deployed his deadliest weapon – the assassin known as Taskmaster.

Like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow is a contained story that has elements of pervious MCU films sprinkled throughout but feels very much like its own film. Natasha isn’t tasked with saving the world, find an infinity stone, or stop out of control A.I – she just has to stop one person that’s doing a very bad thing and help her family. That seems very doable for a highly trained assassin.

Black Widow is Scarlett Johansson’s film. She’s the star and gives a fantastic performance as Natasha. The true stars of this film are Florence Pugh and David Harbour. They provide some of the film’s best action scenes and the best comedic moments. Pugh is a star and this performance cements that. It’s good to see Pugh get an opportunity to shine in this action film that’s different than anything she’s ever done. With the Black Widow character now gone, I hope Pugh reprises her role as Yelena for a few more films.

Harbour is the comic relief in the film as Alexei. Much like his American counterpart Captain America, Alexei is a soldier out of time. He’s a relic from the days of the Cold War. Harbour brings the same comedic levity he brings to Stranger Things. He delivers a funny one-liner that will catch audiences off guard but is perfect for that scene. I’d watch an entire film of Alexei telling old war stories.

Director Cate Shortland does an incredible job making the story feel bigger than life when it needs to and like a intimate family story at other times.  There are some really big action sequences that don’t feel cluttered or overloaded. Shortland delivers a good balance of action and storytelling to keep the film interesting.

Black Widow won’t surprise you but it’s very entertaining and the kind of feel good action you’d expect from Marvel. Fans of the MCU have a decade of history with Black Widow and the film did something I didn’t expect…they made her more interesting. We know how Natasha’s story ends. Seeing how she got to be the way she is and what she was up to when she’s not Avengering was not what I expected but the Summer blockbuster I needed.

Grade: B+