They knew their husbands were involved in the unsavory and illegal activity of thievery. And when their spouses were killed pulling off a major heist, they also knew that day might come. But what they didn’t expect was to be threatened with death, if they didn’t repay money stolen by their now deceased partners. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki play the widows who have to delve into a world they know very little about to save their own lives. The movie, Widows, boasts an exceptional cast and compelling story but is badly tainted by a virtual smorgasbord of negative stereotypes of the African American community. While any plot involving criminals displays seedy characters; in Widows, this seediness if mainly painted black. There’s the dishonest, self-serving black pastor; thugs parading as legitimate politicians; a ruthless, very dark-skinned enforcer/killer; and African Americans, are referred to as people who kill each other and who can’t stop making babies. And of the black women characters, one gets made a fool of romantically, and the other is a masculine, athletic man-woman. As is often the case with these types of troubling portrayals, this script is the product of a black man, Steve McQueen, who co-wrote and directed the film. Viola Davis is absolutely amazing. A powerful screen presence, coupled with an uncommon ability to display a full range of emotions, each with authenticity and credibility. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of roles for 40ish African American women and they often have to take what is offered to them. Widows gets a cast diversity rating of “A-”. Set in Chicago, it contains actors of color but not as many Hispanics and Asians as should be, for the highly diverse Windy City. At two hours and 10 minutes, this movie goes on way too long. As I have said in the past, few films tell a story that takes more than 90 to 100 minutes to tell. It’s rated “R” for violence and language. The verdict is: See Widows. Despite my criticisms, if this film succeeds we’ll see more of Viola on the screen. And that would be a very good thing!