Charlie's Angels might not have a lot on its mind but it is a fun and entertaining female-centric action that we ladies don't have nearly enough of.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Summary: When a young systems engineer blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie's Angels are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all.
There is a moment, fairly early on in Charlie's Angels, when the movie lets you know exactly where it stands. Far too often when there is a movie based on a cheesy old property where the movie becomes self-aware and pokes fun at the old property. That is exactly what you think a movie like Charlie's Angels would do and likely what a lot of audiences will be expecting. However, that is not the case. Instead, Charlie's Angels not only acknowledges the previous TV show but also the two previous movies and throws its hands in the air as it declares both of them not only valid but canon. That sort of thing is something audiences are used to now but this is a movie that unabashedly in love with its own source material for all the good and the bad.
However, it also moves beyond its own source material. The show and the first two movies featured a whole lot of the male gaze which was very typical of the time period. Instead, this version of Charlie's Angels might have some skimpy outfits but the movie isn't framed in the same way. The only moment when director Elizabeth Banks lingers on women's bodies is when they are using their bodies to fool men. There is a real sense of sisterhood in this movie that was sorely lacking from the previous iterations of this franchise. It makes the partnerships and friendships from the angels themselves feel that much more real and thus more compelling.
A lot of that comes down to the cast with the standout being Kristen Stewart. Stewart got dealt a bad hand in her early career when her and co-star Robert Pattinson were both blamed for the Twilight movies being as bad as they are. Both of them have followed similar career paths in that they've spent the last decade or so doing a lot of indies and showing everyone that they know how to act. Stewart has more than proven herself to be a dynamite dramatic actress but there is something about how much fun she is clearly having on the set of Charlie's Angels that is magnetic. She lights up an entire room in a way we don't get to see from her very often. We can hope that this movie will have more people giving Stewart the opportunity to show up on set and just have fun.
She's getting good back-up by her fellow Angels as well. Naomi Scott proved herself earlier this year by putting on one hell of a performance as Jasmine in Aladdin but relative newcomer Ella Balinska does a great job presenting the tough as nail action badass. You believe her, and all of the other girls, in their action scenes. The movie shows fight moves that work for women so it really does seem like these girls can take down men twice their size. Banks and Patrick Stewart are playing some fun supporting roles while Sam Claflin makes virtually no impact as one of the villains.
It's rather unfortunate that the story is rather by the book. There isn't anything new or daring about it and while it resolves in a rather fun way the twist is something you can see coming a mile away. That doesn't mean that it's bad just that there isn't a lot on its mind. Charle's Angels isn't trying to blow anyone away with its story, we're here for the fun chemistry between the stars and the action scenes, it's just a shame that all of that chemistry and action isn't wrapped around something more interesting. It could have elevated a good movie to a great one.
Charle's Angels isn't going to change anyone's life but the cast dynamic works like gangbusters and we have so few dumb action series that are female-centric. If the boys get their slightly disposable action movies then so should the girls and with a better script, a sequel could far surpass the original.