Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.
We finally have the long-awaited Marvel prequel (or in-betweequel) that has been given over a thousand trailers, at least that is what it feels like. We obviously know why, and it is nice to just know that the film is almost here. Black Widow gets a lot right, and there are shades of a top-tier Superhero film here. The hand-to-hand combat is intense, and some of the action is thrilling, but what hits the hardest are the more quiet moments. There are scenes throughout where we get a conversation or two between our core team, and I could have used so much more of that. It is extremely prevalent throughout, but the third act almost forgets what the first two acts were managing to do emotionally. A lot of what works so well with the less-comedic than expected banter is how flawless these performances are. Pugh and Harbour are wonderful additions to the cast. Both inject humor, but it never feels forced or awkward.
Yelena is the perfect contrast to Natasha at points, but they have similar mentalities and this bond that carries so much weight throughout the movie. Also, Rachel Weisz is good, but her character feels a bit underutilized. In terms of the feel of the film, there are clear Winter Solider vibes, but I would compare it much more to a Bond or Mission Impossible film. It is clear which elements they use, but it is also fun to see that used in the MCU at the same time. Taskmaster is the key here, as this is a villain that has to provide an imposing threat. While the score amps up every time we get to see this character on screen (similar to the villainous presence of Winter Soldier), and these fight scenes do feel epic, there is a bit that feels lacking.
The “point” of Taskmaster is well written, (even if it started to become predictable), but there is a lack of exploration that felt integral. I feel as if Taskmaster should have meant more to us character-wise, but Shortland opts to focus on the heroes, which is understandable. The direction itself is sound, especially in the first act when it feels like nothing else in the MCU. The third act features explosions, cgi, and pretty much everything you see in most Superhero movies. In a way, this is disappointing, especially after a subtle and smaller-scaled first act. This takes nothing away from the entertainment because it is going to be an incredible time in a theater. I just feel as if there was a missed opportunity to bring home a personal story without the “showiness” of this big finale set piece. Regardless, Black Widow is a solid entry and a beautiful sendoff for Scarlett Johansson.
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