Directed By Elizabeth Banks
Starring – Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska
The Plot – A trio of ladies are working for the mysterious Charles Townsend, whose security and investigative agency has expanded internationally. With the world’s smartest, bravest, and most highly trained women all over the globe, there are now teams of Angels guided by multiple Bosleys taking on the toughest jobs everywhere.
Rated PG-13 for action/violence, adult language and some suggestive material
– Upgraded style. In crafting an Angels story once every decade, these films have a responsibility in keeping up with the very essence of the times, and this music video style of presentation is one of few things that this movie invests weight in articulating. The boisterous audibility of its dance-dominated soundtrack combined with its sleek establishing shot movements, gives the film weight in its current day narrative, all the while conjuring a personality in atmosphere that reflects the vibes continued by its trio of ladies at the forefront this time. Even if it has problems with its following execution nearly throughout the rest of the film, the introduction and pre-established flavor is enough of a visual seduction to indulge us into investing more into this world, and above all else settling us into a popcorn action flick for females with its anything but cheap tastes.
– Feminist narrative. Speaking of females, it should come as no surprise that a Charlie’s Angels movie is full of inspirational circumstances for its female audience, which in turn establishes the trio as an action force capable of doing the very same stunts and gravity-defying feats that their male predecessors have done. Aside from this, it’s the message of sticking together and bonding hand-in-hand against a world that even in 2019 still demeans and lessens the importance and capabilities of a gender that has to work twice as hard to reach the same finish line. The Angels are hip, tough, and especially sexy when they need to use it as their strongest weapon against their opposition. It embodies everything that the female spirit could and should be, mastering the consistency of its intention so much better than “Terminator: Dark Fate” attempted two weeks prior.
– Extended universe. Perhaps the coolest aspect of the screenplay is how Banks encapsulates the entire Charlie’s Angels universe in a way that brings three generations of ass-kicking women together in a couple of uniquely constructed scenes. I won’t give much away, but this newest installment confirms that there is one endearing direction that all of arcs are belonging to, giving elaboration to its spy universe in a way that the James Bond movies only hint at. Not only did I enjoy how this movie aligned all of these versions together while driving its current day narrative, but I also appreciated that the prominence of this movie never falls on the shoulders of previous editions that a lesser movie would use as a crutch to hinge at people’s nostalgia. It answers the question, then chooses the option of standing on its own, and whether you enjoy this movie or not, you have to respect it for that direction.
– Geographical punch. Casting further emphasis on its 48 million dollar budget, “Charlie’s Angels” cements the importance of its operation by offering us a constant barrage of location changes that gives this first installment a global cinematography that keeps the scenery challenging. There’s a consistency applied to switching things up at just the right time to keep the establishing shots persistently entrancing, but really it’s the way that the conflict of the group grows in scale the longer the film goes on, forcing them to attack each sting operation with different costumes and respect for the rules of the cultures. A great spy movie should offer a stage big enough so that every corner of the world is affected simultaneously, and even with a conflict that has problems of its own for its lack of vulnerability removed from Banks’ direction, the production fills the blanks the best it can with expansive shooting locations that switch-up as often as dance partners.
– Uninspired action sequences. Even if the fight choreography is believable enough in selling these petite women as ferocious adversaries, the fumbling shot composition and overzealous editing hinders what chance the actresses have to break convention. For one, the angles here are so tightly claustrophobic that we have difficulty detecting what has taken place during each swing of bodily momentum. In addition to this, the camera uses clever placement of its actors to hide whatever difficulties the production had in manufacturing these scenes, presenting us with a lot of over-the-shoulder depictions that can be sold well enough without ever getting too close to put them in danger. It’s gutless filmmaking at its finest. Finally, the choppy editing is disastrous, stitching together too many different angles for the same shot in a way that overcomplicates what should essentially be filler before the brunt of the storm. Nothing about this action worked for me, and further stirred my pudding of discontent from a series of trailers that came across as spoofing what they should be excelling at.
– Tonal incompetence. To say this movie fails as a comedy on nearly every measure is an understatement. Instead, I will say that not only did I not laugh once in the movie, but the personality particularly of Stewart is so overly forced that it comes across as feeling desperate. This is a major problem for someone like Banks, who has built a career as a reputable comedic actress, but here completely eviscerates the fun factor from something so familiar in pop culture. As for an action offering, the bumbling of what I previously mentioned keeps it from dominating in that area as well. It leaves this movie searching for a comfortable identity of its own, free from the stacking up of failed intentions that are, unfortunately, all too common in this installment.
– Rudimentary dialogue. Easily the worst aspect of the film for me are a series of punchlines and puns that would have seven year old’s asking their parents to take them to the bathroom without a drop in them. When this group isn’t wasting minutes debating which celebrity should be referred to as Birdman, there’s also enough time dedicated to groaning deliveries that don’t emit a single shred of timing or confidence in their embodiment. The worst is easily from Stewart, who as committed as she is to blazing a new trail as a comic heavyweight, isn’t given the kind of lines necessary to make her turn stand-out as anything other than forgettable, five minutes after you leave the theater. If spies talk and break down strategies like this, I think I will take my chances against the terrorists on my own, thanks.
– Predictably bland. There’s a couple of strange instances in this regard. One deals with a plot twist midway through, that feels every bit as telegraphed as it does unnecessary to the stacking adversaries, who aren’t given enough screen time to be anything characatures. Then there’s the treatment of its search for the third angel, which is not only given away in the trailer, but also as obvious as a tornado in Kansas, for there being only three women that this movie spends ample amount of time focusing on. Nothing in this movie surprised me or left a memorable impression of positivity with me, making its biggest problem its forgettable lack of effort that will diminish before the next corporate Charlie’s offering sometime in the next decade.
– Wasted cast. Thank the movie gods for Patrick Stewart, because otherwise this entire picture is void of one convincingly effective performance from the trio of ladies, who are the least interesting characters in their own movie. Kristen Stewart is extremely miscast, Naomi Scott is entirely one-note, and Ella Balinska isn’t given a personality to compliment her yearning for physicality on-screen. It hurts even more that these three lack any kind of chemistry so badly that the script often has to insert these scenes of togetherness to convince its audience that they are indeed growing as a family. One such comes during a train-ride to Istanbul, where these ladies, who only met the day before, are now resting on one another for nothing more than to establish their growth in such a short time. The antagonists are equally misdirected, as the often-scene-stealing Sam Claflin is nothing more than an afterthought to the mid-movie twist that renders him virtually pointless. Claflin isn’t given enough screen time to make an impression, so it isn’t completely on him, but the total lack of effort during exposition makes me think that this was an obligation film that he is still abusing his agent for.
– Finish line stumbles. How can a movie with so many problems save its worst stuff for a time that is supposed to offer relief in the eyes of an audience chained to a radiator to see it? The final moments of this movie are anti-climatic and stretched to the point that they are challenging Marvel for post-movie activity. Where this film ends is without question the most pointless stamp of emphasis that a movie has given in 2019, and only solidifies how little of effort and intention was made towards its success. As for the post-credit sequences, they are these series of ten second cameos that could’ve better been used to sell the big name appeal of its property, but here have the audacity to sell a sequel that I promise will never happen. “Charlie’s Angels” doesn’t have an ending, it has a series of last breaths meant to prolong the suffering of a movie that is already twenty minutes too long, in terms of valued minutes.
My Grade: 4/10 or D-