In this 1970s era crime drama, we see three wives in the wake of their husbands’ arrests. Their husbands were powerful men in the Irish mob scene of Hell’s Kitchen, New York, so the wives step in to fill this vacuum, quickly discovering they have a knack for it. Kathy (Melissa McCarthy) steps up to make connections with nearby families, while Claire (Elizabeth Moss) struggles to learn how to defend herself and take care of loose ends. Ruby (Tiffany Haddish) fears for her life following her husband’s arrest, so she makes aggressive moves to secure her place. To help them make moves, they recruit Gabriel (Domhnall Gleeson) to teach them how to kill, how to get rid of bodies, and ultimately to provide protection. This story follows their rise to wealth and what happens when their husbands eventually get released from prison and the implications of their wives now running the territory.
Melissa McCarthy and Elizabeth Moss run the show here, delivering our most powerful and impactful moments. While it might be hard to take McCarthy serious, I feel like she’s done enough serious pictures now to start to wear that reputation down. I also want to give kudos to Domhnall Gleeson, who plays a completely detached sociopath pretty easily.
This movie also offers lots of “WHOA WHAT” moments, so if you want something that leaves you guessing and you never know what will happen next, you’ll find plenty of that here, right up until the last shot of the film.
What doesn’t work?
While there are plenty of shock and awe moments, it can feel a bit familiar. Most movies revolving around the mob feature plenty of “What the! They killed them!” moments. It also lacks a punch at the end, all of these big twists ultimately feeling a little underwhelming. As the credits began to run, I didn’t really feel much of anything, so the whole journey felt a little inconsequential, including squandering Domhnall Gleeson, who they built up to be something and instead they disappointed.
I’m also conflicted about Tiffany Haddish here. There were plenty of times when her line delivery caused the audience to laugh, but I don’t know if it was really meant to be a punchline. We’re just so used to seeing her in comedies, this first outing in a drama might be a rough transition.
This movie is fine, which is pretty much what I expected. McCarthy, Moss, and Gleeson carry the film, while Haddish is a little more hit or miss. The story will keep you engaged and has plenty of twists and turns, but ultimately lacks the punch and impact in the climax, leaving you feeling apathetic about the adventure you just went on. It’s fine if you’re looking for some air conditioning for a few hours, but this won’t top any Best of 2019 lists for sure.