‘Black Widow’ one of summer’s best

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While superheroes flying solo in their own films are a rare feat these days, the highly-anticipated and long-planned “Black Widow” film has finally arrived, with only one Avenger needed.

Taking place in 2016 after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” for the first time in a while, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is on the run and alone. To be specific, she’s on the run from the U.S. government and the Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt). 

From Avenger to fugitive, Natasha reunites with the only other family she’s ever known, starting with an impressive hand-to-hand combat reunion with her “sister,” Yelena (Florence Hugh). As it turns out, Natasha and Yelena grew up in a seemingly-normal Midwestern family, except for the fact that dad Alexei/Red Guardian (David Harbour) and mom Melina (Rachel Weisz) were undercover Russian operatives pretending to be a family.

When the family landed in Cuba after a daring shootout with S.H.I.E.L.D, the family went their separate ways, with Natasha and Yelena being broken in as Russian spies in brutal and barbaric fashion.

Flash forward to the present again, Natasha and Yelena set aside their differences to break their pretend dad out of an isolated prison. While Natasha and Yelena are still sore at Alexei for ditching them as children, his super-strength is needed and exceeds any daddy issues that remain from their childhood.

General Dreykov (Ray Winstone), the one who took in Natasha and Yelena and submitted them into being the killing machines of their assassin days, is at it again. He has an army of female assassins that are forced to obey his every command, and won’t stop until he reaches global domination.

To make things worse, a seemingly robotic and invincible super soldier known as Taskmaster is on Natasha and Yelena’s every trail. To avoid further terror and seek revenge on their lost childhood and adolescence, the sisters must reunite with the help of Mom and Dad to take down Dreykov once and for all.

In what’s a proper sendoff for Johansson’s Black Widow character, the action is frequent and consistently top-notch. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better hand-to-hand combat sequences, which is so fitting for a character that’s been entertaining us in those sequences for the past decade.

David Harbour looks like he’s having a blast in his goofy fatherly role, reliving the glory days of his character’s super-soldier past. Florence Pugh is also an absolute knockout as younger sister Yelena. Her on-screen chemistry with Johansson is undeniable, and you can’t help but feel a passing of the torch that exceeds beyond the characters they’re playing in life imitating art.

A critique of Marvel films, and a fair one at that, is the lack of intimidating villains not named Thanos. The same can be said in “Black Widow” for Dreykov, who rarely leaves his computer screen, and a fun sidekick villain in Taskmaster who doesn’t quite reach menacing status.

The final act is a bit convoluted and stumbles to the finish line, but not to the detriment of the film. With non-stop action, great acting and on-screen chemistry and a few nice plot twists here and there, Marvel adds another impressive film to their endless vault. “Black Widow” is the one spider you won’t mind letting bite you.

Grade: B+



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