I have never enjoyed Charlie’s Angels. The show always had about as much drama as Baywatch to me. It was an excuse to put beautiful women in a show and have them run around being sexy. Sure, they kicked some butt occasionally, but mostly the point of the show was to see them in scantily clad clothes. It was what female empowerment was back in the day. So, you can give it a little credit.
Then the movies came out and were just terrible. Constant innuendo jokes about the girls as sex symbols, wearing scantily clad clothes again, and excuses to have them show skin. There was some female empowerment, but they were clearly designed for the male gaze. That was about it. Now, I have no problem with beautiful women running around and kicking ass, but when it’s so blatantly exploitive and overtly cheesy I can’t give it credit for much.
The new ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movie is quite a bit different and cleverly lets it’s actresses play against type. Yes, there is still is some revealing outfits, Kristen Stewart is particularly sexy in a short gym outfit, but it never feels exploitive. Mostly, it’s just fun to watch these talented women have fun with a fairly familiar story. The plot line about some clean energy device that could also be a killer is derivative of many other action movies and the action sequences aren’t particularly memorable in any way. Yet, it overcomes these shortcomings with truly fun performances.
Naomi Scott plays a brilliant scientist that has discovered the kink in the device that can cause it to turn into an EMP. She is the fish out of water and the guide for the audience. She also expresses giddy excitement with each new revelation. Ella Balinska gets to shoot all the big guns and perform all the big stunts. She’s probably the least fun of the group, but she’s a necessary kink in the cog for dramatic purposes. Then there is Kristen Stewart. It is beginning to feel like a cliche to say that she is a show stealer, but it’s just a fact. She has been slowly building a brilliant track record of work for years and this return to big budget filmmaking is a welcome departure. She is completely playing against type here. Her character is often ditsy, confident, playful, and sexy in a way that’s far from awkward. This is the type of role that we could easily see an actress like Cameron Diaz play. That’s just what she was type cast as from minute one. Stewart shows here that she can do just about anything and I look forward to seeing her in more roles like this in the future.
This is not a movie you need to run out to the theaters to see this weekend, but if you’re interested in it then it’s a good way to spend a few hours. Not sure we will see anymore of these movies, but if so I will welcome them. With Elizabeth Banks in the directors chair, this is a breezy trip with some fun spy ladies.