Charlie's Angels (2019) - Film Review
How NOT to write a female-lead spy film
For a concept that could have so much potential (even as a reboot), this film falls into complete faux-feminism territory. Banks writes very on the nose gender agenda, while patronising the female characters by making every male in this film a creep, an idiot or just moustache twirling villain - there’s no complexity and if making your female characters strong means making the men easy pray or every woman great at everything, you’ve failed in creating a strong cast of characters and the stakes are meaningless.
Speaking of stakes, this script relied on so much telling instead of showing. The threat wasn’t explored to the depth it could have been, instead the audience were told of the consequences rather than shown.
Direction wise, this film was adequate for its genre, but the real weakness was in its writing. Elizabeth Banks had a very simplistic view throughout the entire piece - women are great and can everything (even when said skills or abilities aren’t established) and aside from two men, the rest of the male species are scum of the earth. Now, I’m not against dealing with issues where female characters are undermined or have to fight - mentally, emotionally or physically - against male opposition, but it needs to be impactful or empowering. A spy movie with a trio of female characters from different backgrounds and have different strengths could be a good film, but when you make the characters brilliant and with no flaws or struggles, then it’s pointless.
Now the Angels - Elizabeth Banks shouldn’t be in this category as she’s a Bossley (the handler who is the go between Angels and Charlie), but I’m always sceptical when a writer and director writes themselves such a pivotal role. She’s a decent actress and I’ve liked her previous works, but I wouldn’t have made this character so involved in the missions and should’ve stayed an advisor.
Ella Balinska as Jane Kano, a former MI-6 agent who became an Angel was the standout of this entire film. As well as her acting being great, her character had an emotional drive to complete this mission and there was layers to her performance. Balinska is definitely an actress to look out for in future films and did impressively well with a script like this.
Kristen Stewart as Sabina Wilson, a wild and rebellious Angel was a confusing character at times. She’s presented as the wild card character who speaks her mind - which is mainly focused on food, but she she’s from a wealthy background. This is something that annoyed me with the flawless writing for women, she couldn’t be a streetwise girl from a poor upbringing. Instead she was very extravagant and the actual line delivery fell flat at times.
Naomi Scott as Elena Houghlin, an engineer, programmer, and creator of the Calisto project had so much potential. Scott actually had humour to her role, but her character abilities were remarkably underused. She and Balinska were the best casting undoubtedly.
Also if you are going to set up a cast with specific abilities - military trained, street smart and tech brains - let said characters be portrayed in that way and build on how it compliments the group.
Now there were also some great male casting - Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou and Sam Claflin to name a few - but nearly all of these characters were very one dimensional and had no layers whatsoever.
It’s a shame that this film had so many issues that could’ve been easily fixed in the screenwriting stage, but it doesn’t look likely this film will get a sequel.
I rated this on Letterboxed One and a Half STARS