'Black Widow' - Movie Review

Scarlett Johansson's swan song as Natasha Romanov / the "Black Widow," a role she's played in multiple movies in the "Marvel Universe." At least ... we assume this is her last movie: she's officially, permanently dead after "Avengers: Endgame," and we're told that this is Johansson's last, retroactive outing. This takes place right after "Captain America: Civil War" with Black Widow hiding from the American military who want to lock her up for "violating the Sokovia Accords."

The movie opens on a pair of Russians in 1995 playing at being an American family: David Harbour and Rachel Weisz as the parents, and a couple young female actors as the false daughters who grow into Natasha Romanov and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Natasha, on the run after the events of "Civil War," unintentionally reconnects with her younger sister Yelena - from whom she learns that the man who created "the Red Room" that she thought she'd killed is still alive, and he's still training/torturing/killing young women to create assassins.

This leads to Natasha and Yelena reconnecting with their false parents: David Harbour is hilarious as an aging, overweight, not very bright former Russian super-soldier (he was supposed to be the Russian opposite number to Captain America) who just wants to punch things and/or reminisce about the old days - some of which he may have embellished, although he is very strong.

I admit to being considerably surprised to finding myself enjoying this one: Weisz and Harbour are charming and funny as the parents, but Johansson and Pugh really make this work as a pair of sisters who had a strong connection but spent a huge part of their life apart. The movie is quite clear (voiced by Natasha) about being about the struggles of holding a family together - but despite the heavy-handedness, is fairly good at carrying through on the idea. And again, Johansson and Pugh steal the show when they're on screen together. I haven't said it because it's just a given: there's lots and lots of action and it's pretty good. One of Marvel's better outings, and a very enjoyable departing bow for Johansson.