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To be completely honest, this wasn’t one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and with Oscar season right around the corner, it seems like a strange time to get what I’d expect to be a late summer movie. Nevertheless, here we are with a Charlie’s Angels movie directed by Elizabeth Banks in 2019. I’ve seen the 2000 film and its 2003 sequel, but I think I’m a bit young for the television series, so that might be part of the reason I’ve never been a fan of Charlie’s Angels. I do, however, like the cast. Despite all of the negativity it seems she hasn’t been able to shake since the Twilight series, Kristen Stewart is actually great. Most recently, I loved Personal Shopper, and I’d love to see her get more recognition for how good of an actress she truly is. I also like both Naomi Scott and Elizabeth Banks, and with the right touch, I think this is the kind of movie that could have caught lightning in a bottle, similar to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Charlie’s Angels is directed by Elizabeth Banks and stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, and Nat Faxon. Elena, played by Scott, has engineered a brand new way to power her tech company, but she’s aware that it can be weaponized. When the company forgoes addressing safety issues with the new technology, Elena goes to Charlie’s Angels to stop that tech from reaching the wrong hands.
I enjoyed this movie much more than I anticipated. It’s not going to come near a list of the best movies of the year, but it didn’t need to in order to surpass my expectations. I think it all starts with the cast and Elizabeth Banks. Elizabeth Banks isn’t a strong director of action, which we’ll get to later, but she does a very good job bringing out the best in her lead actresses. I was really interested in the Angels, and they all had a unique personality and edge to them that allowed me to connect with them. It probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Charlie’s Angels isn’t a deep look into the characters, but I enjoyed them for what they were, and the three lead actresses have great chemistry. Stewart, Scott, and Balinska all brought something to the table, and I enjoyed watching them play off each other. Kristen Stewart gets to play a much looser and less emotionally reserved role than she typically does, and as a fan of hers, it was nice to see her branch out into something more fun and social than what she has been typecast into. Most recently we’ve seen Naomi Scott in Power Rangers and Aladdin, and she really seems to excel in a shared lead role in a summer movie. I wasn’t familiar with Ella Balinska coming into the movie, but she was a pleasant surprise, and I enjoyed watching her develop a relationship with the other Angels despite her character’s hard outer shell. Elizabeth Banks’s strength is in comedy and chemistry, and she’s able to get the most of both out of her three lead Angels.
Where this movie does falter is in its story and its action. All of the action seems extremely rehearsed, and it often looks like it was shot in slow-motion then sped up to look like it was happening in real time. It’s also pretty easy to discern real sound from post-production sound, which can be jarring. Banks also uses a lot of camera motion and cuts to create chaos, especially in a chase scene early on in the film, but it just makes it difficult to keep track of what is happening. The movie also has a relatively simple story, but it’s told in such a complicated way that I think it loses track of itself at points. This is a story about keeping a dangerous weapon away from dangerous people, but the story takes so many twists and turns for the sake of surprises. I love twists and turns, but I love them when they make sense in the greater context of this story. It seemed as though the filmmakers knew they had a simple story and wanted to keep audiences off its tracks, so they added unnecessary complications while making important plot devices or important scenes feel unimportant, or vice versa. It goes back to the old cliché of a simple story told well oftentimes being the best choice.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed Charlie’s Angels more than I would have expected, but it’s still a middle-of-the-line movie. Elizabeth Banks flourishes when she gets to use her actresses for comedy and chemistry. When she sticks to that strength, Charlie’s Angels is entertaining and fun with good performances. When she gets away from that and tries to add action and unneeded complexity to this story, it loses its power. I understand that the action is necessary in a movie like Charlie’s Angels, but I would have loved to have seen some more fluid choreography of the fight sequences so that it didn’t look quite as clunky and artificial. I’m going to give Charlie’s Angels a 5/10.
Will you be seeing Charlie’s Angels? Comment down in the comment section to let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!