Charlie’s Angels, by Cameron J. Czaja

When I was looking over the movie choices for this weekend, I wasn’t sure what film I was going to pick. In the end I settled for the new Charlie’s Angels film and saw it early in the day due to an unpredictable weekend I had upcoming. I had a job interview, a friends-giving, and a new Pokémon game coming out. So did I make the right choice with this instead of Ford V. Ferrari? Let’s find out.

In this continuation of the Charle’s Angels franchise we follow the three Angels: Sabina (Kristen Stewart), a girl with a rebellious past; Jane (Ella Balinska), a former MI-6 Agent who now works for the Charlie’s Angels organization; and Elena (Naomi Scott), who isn’t initially an Angel in the beginning of the film but rather a scientist who is the catalyst for the plot. She works for a company that created a device that makes clean energy. Yet she wants to expose her employers because that same contraption can also create fatal seizures if it fell into the wrong hands. When Elena tried to come forward she gets ambushed but is saved by the Angels and Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) and from there they have to figure out a plan to stop the people who want to weaponize her invention.

Even though I’ve never seen the original Charlie’s Angels from the 1970s, I have seen the 2000s version and its sequel Full Throttle. While they aren’t great, I really did enjoy them for what they are and I came into this one hoping this would be a better version than those two. Sadly I was wrong, as this version is nothing more than a generic, paint-by-numbers spy film that panders to the demographic that it’s going for.

The message that they’re trying to go for in Charlie’s Angels is female empowerment, and I have no issue with that whatsoever if a film tries to say that. But the problem here is that it relies on that message way too much. There’s a scene at the beginning of the film during the opening credits where they show a montage of girls of different ages participating in activities such as sports and working in a classroom that had nothing to do with the film whatsoever. I was quite puzzled by this when I first saw it but I thought the movie would become much more subtle after that (spoiler alert it didn’t). From there they go out of their way to make every female character prominent including minor ones which made the film a bit uneven when it came to characterization. Without spoiling it they did some other things too at the end that felt really unnecessary. They were just trying to make a feminist message for the sake of making a feminist message, and by that point I was basically done with the film. It’s a shame that a film like this comes out and has an overbearing message on female empowerment and completely dropped the ball on that when we’ve had great examples of films with female leads this year (Captain Marvel and Terminator: Dark Fate) that have done a great job portraying strong female characters and not doing it a pandering way.

If I had to say some things positive about Charlie’s Angels, it would be Kristen Stewart and how they portrayed the Angels themselves. In the film Stewart looked like she was having fun as she played a quirky and unique character that I haven’t seen her do. The reason this is a compliment is because I’ve seen her in all the Twilight films and a couple of her other films and in those she’s practically playing the same character. I always find it refreshing whenever an actor/actress does something different that we normally don’t get to see. As I mentioned earlier, the second thing that I liked in this film is how they treated the three leads. While I do like the 2000s Charlie’s Angels and its sequel, the one thing that always bugged me in those is how they sexualized them for style and cater to the common male demographic. In this more modern take they don’t rely on sex and as a Catholic man it was something that I appreciated.

On paper, the idea of a new Charlie’s Angels film would’ve been great especially in this Me Too movement era, but a generic plot and forced feminism within the film was just plain irritating. If you want to watch a movie with strong female leads, just go watch Terminator: Dark Fate or if you signed up for Disney+ then watch Captain Marvel instead.

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