- Published: Tuesday, 29 June 2021 09:01
- Written by Lupe R Haas
Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow always hinted about her mysterious past, and in BLACK WIDOW we get the full story on what makes her tick. Florence Pugh joins the action as Yelena Bolova, and her chemistry with Scarlet Johansson is the heart of the story. David Harbour brings on the laughs and amusing moments to this spy thriller which marks the end of Natasha Romanoff's MCU run.
The events in Marvel’s BLACK WIDOW take place between CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and INFINITY WAR. After the fallout from Iron Man and Captain America’s warfare, Natasha is living off the grid in Europe as a fugitive from General Ross (William Hurt) when she’s forced to confront her past as a Russian spy.
Before Natasha Romanoff’s AVENGER days, she was trained in the Black Widow Program also known as The Red Room which trains young women and brainwashes them into deadly assassins. BLACK WIDOW opens with Romanoff’s early days as a Russian child operative pretending to be part of an American family with KGB spies as her parents (David Harbour, Rachel Weisz) and big sister to a young Yelena. Milla Jovovich (RESIDENT EVIL) and director Paul W.S. Anderson’s daughter Ever Anderson plays the young Natasha. The series, The Americans comes to mind while watching the first 10 minutes of the Marvel movie in which the story sets up Natasha’s early days.
The first act and first half of the second act are action-packed with some great action sequences. Directed by Cate Shortland (SMILF), the fight scenes are raw and messy like a Jason Bourne melee, and the action lives up to the usual Marvel hype. Natasha’s signature moves can all be traced back to her training as a Russian Widow. In BLACK WIDOW, there are no superheroes so the fight and action scenes reflect sheer strength and skill rather than superhuman abilities.
For her first time directing an action movie, Shortland delivers high-energy thrills along with the family drama. Although when the family reunion happens, the bickering is a bit of a bore after all the intense action. However, there are many funny moments when Natasha, Yelena, Alexei, and Melina get together.
Wandavision creator Jac Schaeffer and Ned Benson are behind the story while Eric Pearson wrote the screenplay. The script is well-balanced with action, funny moments, and family drama. The sisterly friction between Natasha and Yelena is the heart of the movie. It’s a constant theme in the movie and that relationship blossoms into a relatable sibling story that’s well-balanced with the action.
Florence Pugh steals the show as a funnier version of Natasha, and she and Johansson have great chemistry as estranged sisters of sorts.
David Harbour is another highlight from the Marvel film. As Alexei Shostakov, he fancies himself Captain America’s equivalent but perhaps better. He along with Florence Pugh’s Yelena provides most of the laughs. Sadly Rachel Weisz as Red Room operative Melina Vostokoff isn’t as an exciting character, mostly because they didn’t give her enough to do.
Although not a big deal, the Russian accents are not consistent among the main actors with a few noticeable slips into English.
The third act is a bit of a letdown. It feels like a recycled narrative taken from countless other spy thrillers such as a James Bond film. The ending is littered with female empowerment which I’d enjoy more if it wasn’t laid on too thick.
While Taskmaster is an interesting character, the villain is not fleshed out, and the third act reveal lessens the impact of the supervillain threat.
Stick around for a post-credit scene that is bitter-sweet given it's Johansson’s last time playing Black Widow, but it also sets up a future for Yelena in the MCU.