A Visual Delight
Although Scarlett Johansson is a fine actress and can excel in dramatic roles, she has also been able to cross over into action roles such as Black Widow. Her transition into the Black Widow part for Marvel Studios has been a huge blessing for her career. Not only are pubescent boys drooling over her, but older males are, too. The big difference is that now even young girls have someone to look up to as a super hero and a woman who takes charge and creates her own destiny.
The lithe and athletic Johansson debuted as the character of Black Widow in the film Iron Man 2 (2010) as Russian operative Natasha Romanoff. She then played the character over and over in subsequent popular films such as The Avengers (2012), Captaiin America: The Winter Soldier, (2014),), Captain Marvel (2019), and Avengers: End Game (2019). That supposedly wrapped up the character as everyone was killed in the last film. But, don’t give up on Hollywood. Everyone can be resurrected, and the studio felt it was finally time for a stand-alone film starring Black Widow.
Johansson is joined in this terrifically entertaining film by another beauty, Florence Pugh. The two play sisters and both affect a somewhat Russian accent. Pugh is British by birth and can fake accents; Johansson does a fairly good job faking her Russian accent without a trace of her Manhattan-born accent. The girls have a spectacularly murderous cat-fight that would have put anyone else into a plaster body cast for ten years. Aw heck, it’s just two sisters working out their problems and destroying the house in the process.
Don’t ask about the plot. It’s somewhat muddled, but the gist is the two girls were Russian “plants” who grew up in Middle America. Rachel Weisz (the real-life Mrs. James Bond) is their mother, and buffoon David Harbour is their father Alexei and also the super Russian soldier Red Guardian. At times he is a comical character and does a worthy job making you smile. He has some good scenes arm wrestling with gigantic Dutch body builder Olivier Richters that are amusing. And take special notice of strapping actor O-T Fagbenle as Natasha’s “fixer” and “go-to” helper Rick. He’s kind of sweet on her and there’s no telling if they didn’t manage to hide in the bushes on occasion.
British star Ray Winstone comes in for a turn as the dastardly Dreykov. He’s seems to be running all the secret Russian schemes from a satellite in the sky called The Red Room (commie-red-get it?). He’s a big man and seems to be in his own way but he manages to be commanding as the bad guy.
Everybody fights everybody else, so there is plenty of screen time for all the stars to get in a few thousand whacks, survive numerous explosions, dodge millions of machine gun bursts, fall through the sky like eagles, miraculously land on their feet, and most amazingly, have nary a scratch on their faces. But, if you are a Hollywood movie star you have to look your best at all times.
You will not be disappointed with the aerial stunts and special effects. They are all absolutely eye-knockouts. The true stars of the film are the stunt men and women and the special effects crew. They have made the film exciting and a visual delight. A special nod of recognition goes to the hundreds of people who worked on the spectacular screen explosions, fight scenes, and aeronautical convulsions.
Look for an appearance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. And, incidentally, Robert Downey, Jr. is NOT in the film. However, this movie is one of the most dazzling screen presentations of the year.
(Released by Marvel Studios/ Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of violence/action, some language and thematic material.)