Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez become accidental vigilantes on the streets of Atlanta after their children are killed in random shootings and the cops don’t seem to take much notice. When movies like this star white dudes such as Liam Neeson or Russell Crowe, they open on 3,000 screens. This one is opening on a handful of screens and simultaneously on VOD. It’s difficult not to see racism and sexism in the disparity. Lila & Eve, from director Charles Stone III (who is black), is certainly no worse than many of the films studios presume will appeal to widespread mainstream audiences, and it’s a lot better than some by sheer dint of the fact that it does not star the likes of Neeson or Crowe and as such has a freshness that a different perspective can bring. And this one is a lot more plausible, both narratively, thanks to the ungimmicky script by Patrick Gilfillan (race unknown), and emotionally, thanks to the onscreen goddess who is Viola Davis (Blackhat): she drags her Lila across a minefield of grief and rage and takes us along with her via an unignorable, undeniable empathy, and emerges in a place where what Lila does might challenge our ethics but never our sympathy for her pain. (Lopez [Home] is also very good as a more aggressive character than we’re used to seeing her play.) There might not be a lot that’s unsurprising here, but even the bits that should be cheesy never descend into the silliness they might have… and often do in the movies that get the splashy openings. Is utter ridiculousness the requirement for a wide release that Lila & Eve is missing?