Been 2 years since Spider-Man: Far From Home, and thus 2 years since we last got an MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movie. So especially with the Disney+ series’ (including WandaVision etc.) that have come, it was always gonna be a tall order to see how Black Widow might be now audiences can arguably more comfortably come back to cinemas.
Will firstly say that amusingly given No Time To Die was the first COVID-delayed blockbuster, how this resembles something of a typically conservative superhero film with a bit of James Bond spice. So despite what I’ve just said this does allow for it to be a maturer Marvel film. Finding Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) on the run post-the Civil War movie but before Avengers: Infinity War, she runs into her long-lost family and we get flashbacks to her formation.
The action that then stems from these plot points although somewhat Captain America: Winter Soldier-like given abundant shakycam, is closer to the creativity of Skyfall rather than some of the weaker and even samier Marvel films (looking at you Thor 1!). What’s not in doubt at all is though Johannson more than holds her own as the lead, Florence Pugh as Natasha’s sister Yelena utterly steals the show once she arrives, continuously proving how she’s earned being a rising star without yet falling into the Hollywood trap of losing her self-awareness and so earning the youthful confidence her character shows.
Unfortunately though despite some better action than other MCU flicks, until Yelena appears I can’t say Black Widow absolutely felt alive. Not helped either by how in Act 3 it goes from largely a heightened gritty feel to an excessively hyperreal tone (lots of CGI!). And it’s nice to see Ray Winstone in films again but his Russian villain Dreykov’s far too cartoony to be an outstanding antagonist (why do Russians so much feel like they’re borderline spoofed? Is it the accent?).
Can’t complain too much overall though. I watched this on a huge BFI IMAX screen and can only say it wasn’t just worth it for the raw, immersive experience. It’s luckily also a fairly solid film. P.S, I wouldn’t immediately advise that younger kids see it. You’ll know what I mean!