Roush Review: 'The Widow's Rambo-Like Pursuit of Justice Is Often Compelling

Matt Roush
Review Coco Van Oppens/Two Brothers Pictures

Merry? Not this widow — not Georgia Wells (Kate Beckinsale). Maintaining a pinched grimace of anguish until she adopts a steely, Rambo-like resolve as a warrior for justice, Beckinsale (also a co–executive producer) tries her best to make recklessness a virtue in the high melodrama of The Widow.

"Courage and stupidity are often confused with each other," warns her friend Judith (Alex Kingston). Like nearly everyone in this sprawling story, Judith knows more than she's letting on about the fate of Georgia's husband, Will (Matthew Le Nevez), presumed dead three years earlier in a plane crash in the Congolese jungle. When Georgia spots someone who resembles Will in a TV news report of a riot in the republic's capital of Kinshasa, she races from the remote wilds of Wales to the war-torn country for answers, considering it the bravest thing she's ever done.

"Brave or stupid?" wonders Martin (Charles Dance), a former military intelligence agent, to another character putting himself at risk by traveling to Kinshasa. "Is there a difference?" Not in The Widow. Georgia is heedless of protocol — sometimes of common sense — as she impulsively charges into danger zones, amassing quite a body count of collateral damage along the way. Her mad survival skills and truly killer instincts are explained by her past as a captain in the Royal Artillery.

The stranger-in-a-strange-land allure is potent enough to have inspired another Amazon series, White Dragon, a few weeks ago, with Hong Kong as a backdrop for a widower's (John Simm) search for the unhappy truth about his dead spouse.

Mysteries of the exotic Democratic Republic of Congo enliven The Widow, concocted by brothers Harry and Jack Williams (The Missing). Their central puzzle extends over eight episodes to involve smugglers, mercenaries and a paranoid general (Babs Olusanmokun) who's surrounded by the unruly ghosts of his many victims.

Is Will one of them? Will Georgia be next? Her perilous quest is often compelling, but I found myself much more captivated by the traumatic journey of Adidja (Shalom Nyandiko), kidnapped from a village and recruited as a child soldier, exposed to violence too early. Her desire to follow Georgia on her mission is anything but stupid. It's survival at its most basic.

The Widow, Series Premiere, Friday, March 1, Prime Video