Family Movie Review: Charlie’s Angels (PG-13)

CharliesAngels1 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReview

Girl-power franchise ‘Charlie’s Angels’ gets a fun but slightly forgettable update. 

Kernel Rating: 3 out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13         Length: 119 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This latest addition to the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ franchise is a continuation of the series and the preceding films, and like some other female-focused reboots like ‘Ocean’s 8,’ focuses on the everyday frustrations encountered by female teens and women. Some sexual harassment and microaggressions are shown; insults include the b-word and there is various other cursing throughout including one use of the f-word and some slang like “mofo”; a women’s clinic is discussed as being attacked, and it’s suggested that it’s because the location offers services to unwed mothers and sexually active young women. The action is pretty intense, including lots of hand-to-hand combat, use of guns and knives, a car chase with a machine gun, attempted drowning, and some gruesome deaths, like an impalement and someone going through a rock-pulverizing machine. Finally, some sexual stuff, including aggressive flirting, some cleavage and exposed butts, characters check each other out, and an outfit that could be construed as provocative, including a bustier and collar necklace.

By Roxana Hadadi

By no real fault of its own, the latest version of the “Charlie’s Angels” story feels a little been-there, done-that. Hollywood’s push in the past few years to focus more on female-focused narratives has resulted in biopics like “On the Basis of Sex,” about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and heist movies like “Ocean’s 8,” which starred Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett as the leaders of a team of con artists. The broad strokes of these films—that women can do anything men can do—is mimicked in “Charlie’s Angels,” too, which feels overwhelmingly familiar but is still fairly fun.

CharliesAngels1 ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewIn fact, “Charlie’s Angels” begins with Sabina (Kristen Stewart) telling a criminal she’s tracking, “I think women can do anything,” and then promptly proving herself right by taking him down for stealing millions of dollars of humanitarian aid meant for refugee women and children. As part of the Charlie’s Angels agency, Sabina uses her femininity, and other people’s misconceptions and undermining of her womanhood, to bust organized crime, human trafficking, and other baddies around the world. She can throw a punch, speak various languages, and do a coordinated dance; even the men who she puts away can’t forget her.

A year after that assignment, Sabina is paired with another Angel, Jane (Ella Balinska), a former British intelligence officer, to protect a whistleblower, Elena (Naomi Scott, of “Aladdin”). A programmer and scientist who works for a tech guru who thinks he’s found a way to reinvigorate the energy industry, Elena knows that the device they created to transmit energy can be weaponized, causing brainwaves that can kill people. But Elena’s warnings to her boss were ignored, and when she comes to the Angels, an assassin (Jonathan Tucker) tries to kill them all. Under the protection of Sabina, Jane, and their Bosley overseer (Elizabeth Banks), Elena joins the team as they hop around Europe and Turkey in an attempt to find out who is after them, where those powerful devices disappeared to, and how they can save the world.

“Charlie’s Angels” is rife with the sort of female-experience details that pepper movies of this type nowadays, from a man telling a woman to smile more to respectful flirting between a self-possessed young woman and an enamored young man to a storyline about an older man being mistrustful of the younger women he’s worried will replace him. For older viewers, this might be familiar, but younger tweens and teens will feel emboldened by the Angels’ responses: by Sabina’s dismissive reaction to a criminal who has a crush on her, to Elena’s sly retort to some casual sexual harassment, and to Jane’s formidable physical skill, even when facing off against a world-class assassin. None of these storylines are particularly unique, but they’re enjoyable fluffy with an edge, and should appeal to young women looking for some girl-power affirmation.

It helps that Stewart is having a great time, as is Patrick Stewart in a supporting role; the movies pay homage to the Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu films with a fun rotation of fashionable outfits; and the movie connects the Angels to the real world with a subplot about their support of a women’s clinic in Turkey. “Charlie’s Angels” isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel with anything, but it effectively introduces this concept and these themes to a new audience in an easily digestible and slickly stylish way.

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