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Film Review: “Black Widow” (2021)


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Black Widow is one of the most fascinating characters I personally started respecting after her ultimate sacrifice in The Avengers End Game. There’s something about her you can’t disregard. It’s not just her contagious charm or ability to convince the rest of the world why she deserves to be called a hero. But rather her simplicity; understanding of her goals and what she must do to help the rest of the team to succeed. If there is a definition of a team player, it’s certainly about her. This is why this standalone film is more upsetting than you can realize. Because what was given to us for the last ten years is the legacy worth telling in poems from now on.

Starting after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), the film focuses on the past of Natasha Romanoff, her adopted family, the infamous Red Room, and a whole bunch of Widows you are about to meet along the way. On the run, Natasha reunites with her estranged sister (Florence Pugh) who reveals that Romanov’s most prominent enemy, Dreykov, is still alive and controls a powerful force that can easily confront the world and take down any opponent. Teaming up with the Black Widow Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) and super-soldier Alexei Shostakov, it’s Natasha’s last attempt to redefine her legacy and shape her name in history through the fight and sacrifice she is about to make.

The film opens in 1995, when two Russian undercover agents, Alexei and Melina are looking after their surrogate children, Yelena Belova and Natasha, in Ohio. Abruptly, they are forced to run to Cuba, where they meet their boss, General Dreykov. From that moment on, the film turns up the pace and the sisters are taken to the Red Room for special training. Years later, in 2016, after Natasha violates the Sokovia accords, she is on the run. This is when we are introduced to the charismatic and absolutely richly written character, a grown-up Yelena Belova. She sends a synthetic gas, the counteragent to chemical subjugation, to her sister, who instantly becomes the target of Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko).

Mostly, the film revolves around the gas that immunizes the brain’s neuropathways from external manipulation and provides an antidote to mind control against highly trained soldiers. In the meantime, we get a chance, but not in an extensive way, to learn about Natasha’s past and Yelena’s significance as her replacement. But I must admit, Romanoff, despite being supposed to be the most revealing and poignant character, it’s Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova/Black Widow and David Harbour as Alexei/Red Guardian who steal the show. Of course, having Rachel Weisz is an excellent bonus that beautifies any film. But let’s admit it, the combination of everything makes “The Black Widow” a must-see film, whether you are ready for it or not.

From director Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” is a perfect send-off for Scarlett Johansson’s character. We know how her story ends. But when you watch this film, you realize how much more we could still gain from her valuable presence, not to mention, the lessons we could learn from her. As for the film, it has a female-centric narrative that puts them right in the front taking important actions.

Of course, some might find, rightfully though, there is a lot we could get from this film, including Romanoff’s personal experience in Red Room. But if that would happen, then it would be another film none of us would want to watch. It works perfectly from start to end and never forgets to take it easy, make us laugh, and sometimes be sad at the same time. Because it’s the world of Marvel where everything is possible. And when that’s the case, nothing can stop them from showcasing the power of the cinematic universe, which is, in a way, a planet on its own that will never stop existing, living and thriving as we speak.

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