The past few years have seen a number of strong female characters finally grace our screens, and that number is set to increase with Elizabeth Banks’ continuation of the women-led, comedic action series made popular by Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz back in 2000: Charlie’s Angels. Though this film may not be intellectually sophisticated or filled with jump scares meant to keep audiences up at night, it doesn’t have to be. The film doesn’t try to be anything other than what it claims: a wholesome, globetrotting adventure sewn together with empowerment and authenticity.
The movie stars Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott, and sees Elizabeth Banks stepping in front of the camera to share the spotlight as she also juggles dual roles behind the camera as screenwriter and director. The Townsend Agency, first created by the mysterious Charlie, has vastly expanded since its inception in the original films; angels are now recruited and deployed on missions all around the globe. Sabina (Stewart) and Jane (Balinska) are two of those angels, who, despite their vastly different personalities and pasts, are brought together to protect Elena (Scott), a young computer programmer who is planning to step forth as a whistle-blower upon learning that her bosses are deliberately covering up a lethal flaw in their newest invention Calisto, of which she helped design. Calisto is an energy conservation device that triggers brain seizures when humans are in close proximity to it. When Elena agrees to meet with Edgar Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) one of the senior agents of the Townsend Agency to discuss Calisto, an attempt is made to assassinate her in order to ensure her silence. Sabina and Jane come to her aid and soon decide that they need to get their hands on the Calisto prototypes in order for Elena to hack into the system and fix the flaw before it is launched to the public. Unfortunately, Elena’s boss, Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) has stolen them, and intends to sell them to an unknown buyer. Handled by Rebekah Bosley (Banks), another senior agent who steps in to oversee the mission after Edgar is killed during Elena’s assassination attempt, the four travel to Istanbul, where Fleming is meant to make the sale. While there, the three angels are unknowingly swept up in a larger conspiracy, and the multiple parties behind it will do anything to fulfil their desire for power and revenge, even if it means betraying those closest to them.
Despite initial negative reviews from critics, Charlie’s Angels is an entertaining ride, filled with heartwarming and awkward comedic moments, executed especially well by Stewart. The action sequences are fast-paced, frequent and fun to watch. Though the film is mainly a story focusing on spies and the realm of espionage, Banks reminds us that the emotional heart of any story, even one characterised by its physical action, doesn’t have to be sacrificed in order to create something good. Stewart, Balinska and Scott’s characters are empowered but it’s not just a matter of cleavage-covering clothes or their ability to kick ass; the angels are empowered by the friendship and trust they build with each other. Each angel is strong on their own. Each angel can save herself. But it is once they realise they can rely on one another, that they have a net to fall back on, that they’ll save each other too, is when they’re able to let go and be themselves-their smart, beautiful, stereotype-defying selves. Banks does a nice job of blending the aspects of the original two films with modern values. For example (not a spoiler), but there is a brief moment when Sabina’s character simply tries to make eye contact and say hi to a girl behind the counter at a gym but she’s far too awkward to do so properly. Even though his moment is less than thirty seconds long, it’s touching and funny and damn adorable and just relatable. Also, the main characters are a diverse group of four talented women, which is still quite rare in big Hollywood features. The entire cast seems to have had a smashing good time while filming and that cohesion and chemistry certainly comes across on screen.
This movie won’t be praised during awards season, but it is clear that Banks did not make the movie for such an occasion or for such people. Rather, it is for a new generation of girls who might’ve forgotten the extent of their own potential to take the world by storm. There is no such thing as too much feminism in the entertainment industry, nor should there be. Girls and women are remarkable, and hopefully, regardless of reviews or preferences or beliefs, people will go see it. Hopefully, Charlie’s Angels will be situated in a long line of female-centric films for decades to come.
Charlie’s Angels is in cinemas now
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favorite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95