By Lilia Sebouai, Second Year, English
‘Women can do everything’ is the rousing opening line of the newest millennial update of the spy-chicks franchise.
In Hollywood terms, the film is ground-breakingly progressive, celebrating female strength from beginning to end in the current climate of the #MeToo movement. Or rather it would have been, if it weren’t so eye-rollingly obvious. Unfortunately, Bank’s script is entirely predictable and falls into the trap of performative feminism.
Charlie’s Angels (2019) is also one of the very few actions movies to have been written and directed by a woman, in this case Elizabeth Banks. Although, where Banks is no stranger to the comedy scene, a talented and intelligent actress herself, her script unfortunately fails to deliver any sense of originality or flair. I was hoping for a ground-breaking Phoebe Waller-Bridge style creation, but all I got was another disappointing female-ensemble remake.
Early in the film there’s a confusing montage of women doing different activities – archery, science, surfing – that, I think, was meant to inspirational, but instead feels more like a clip from a primary school educational video. Even the soundtrack, executively produced by Ariana Grande, is a dud. It is only the single ‘Don’t Call Me Angel’ - featuring power trio Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Ray - that would possibly survive outside of the film.
Was there even any point in making a new Charlie’s Angels (2000)? The early 00s film’s entire cultural legacy was already neatly summed up with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy-Liu as the three bad-asses, a strong, poised gun pose, and a Destiny’s Child track.
The premise remains the same as ever: Charlie, remaining unseen and only heard over an intercom, coordinates the three female spies on dangerous missions across the world. Although this time there are different versions of Bosley stationed globally, one played by Banks, another by Djimon Hounsou, and a third by Patrick Stewart.
I think [this montage] was meant to inspirational, but instead feels more like a clip from a primary school educational video
Heading the trio of Angels is Kristen Stewart - a storm in a rare comic role as Sabina, a rebel with a criminal record. Unrecognizable from her awkward Twilight (2008) days, she shines in her best block-buster role to date. Stewart is joined by showstopping newcomer Ella Belinska, who should really be considered as a future female 007, she plays the steely and seemingly emotionless former MI6 agent Jane.
They are both tasked with guarding Elena, played by Naomi Scott - she recently played Princess Jasmine and doesn’t seem to offer anything other than a pretty face, a brilliant scientist whose invention could be deadly in the wrong hands.
#CharliesAngels is the feminist action film my body needed. Don’t let the reviews steer you wrong. Also I am so, so in love with Kristen Stewart now.— Juno Dawson (@junodawson) December 2, 2019
The Angels certainly have their moments - including battling in Stiletto’s, donning killer wardrobes and an eye-catching dance sequence to Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls’ - but as far as female-ensemble films go, this remake will not be remembered.
Although, where entirely unextraordinary, the damning reviews made by middle-aged male critics are slightly unfair, as we must remember that this is essentially a chick flick. The film is a ‘so good it’s bad’ type of enjoyment, I feel no shame in admitting that I did laugh, envy the wardrobe choices and even hummed Grande’s ‘Don’t Call Me Angel’ on my way out. Perhaps this film shouldn’t have been released in cinemas, but rather reserved as a Friday night sleepover Netflix pick.
Featured: IMDb / Merie Weismiller Wallace
Is Charlie's Angels 'so bad it's good', or just plain bad?