Charlie sends love, Angels.
Columbia Pictures’ reboot of the iconic Charlie’s Angels franchise — starring Kristen Stewart (Sabina), Naomi Scott (Eleanor), Ella Balinska (Jane), and Elizabeth Banks (Bosley) — might be short on box office dollars, but it’s big on friendship and femininity and love. It’s essentially just a tale of budding friendships, with some kick-ass outfits, stunts, and laughs thrown into the mix. You may be reading this and wondering how in the hell it differs from the 50,000 previous Charlie’s Angels films, and my answer is that this one is for the ladies in a way that the previous iterations were not.
From the jokes and snarky commentary to the plot and even the eye candy, this is a film that was clearly written by a woman for other women. (Banks penned the screenplay and directed, too.) The very first scene in the film features Stewart’s character Sabina delivering a bit of a feminist speech (albeit while using her sexuality to distract and disarm a man, but hey, baby steps) and is quickly followed by an opening montage of girls of all ages living, thriving, and smiling all around the world.
Throughout the movie, audiences get the sexy without the exploitation, and the over-the-top outfits are accompanied by a humorous acknowledgment that they are, in fact, over the top. (Guess what: Running in stilettos is hard. Women don’t do this. Hell, I can barely stay upright in my chunky, 3-inch booties!) It calls out gendered double standards in a way that isn’t preachy but does make you check yourself.
The movie’s central theme is teamwork (obvs), which comes through as angels Sabina and Jane work with Bosley to protect super-smart scientist Eleanor from an assassin and a douchey boss. Eleanor invented Calisto, a sustainable energy source that has the potential to disrupt the whole power industry. Unfortunately, it also has the potential to um, well, kill people — undetected. In typical patriarchal fashion, Eleanor’s boss tries to silence her and prevent her from fixing Calisto’s fatal flaw, instead plotting to steal the device and sell it off to some generally bad dudes.
As the four women work together to recover Calisto from the wrong hands, they learn to rely on one another, growing closer and eventually becoming “new friends,” as Jane’s character says at one point. At no point in this film do the women iterate that they are not up to the task at hand; in fact, you hear them repeatedly acknowledge how skilled and capable they are, a welcome change from the usual, which is women feigning modesty for palatability. They don’t look for or need any male validation to know what rockstars they are. It’s refreshing.
I’ll admit that I initially showed up to this movie for the YA/rom-com thirst traps (very feminist of me, I know, shhh) — To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before‘s Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), Crazy Rich Asians‘ Colin Khoo (Chris Pang), and Hunger Games’ Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) — but I returned for how surprisingly fun — and funny — it is. And the Ariana Grande-heavy soundtrack didn’t hurt either. Also, for what it’s worth, this is the first role in which Stewart hasn’t made me continually roll my eyes at her.
This movie is arguably not a “good” one, especially if you go by its box office draw (a measly $8 million domestically so far), but maybe that’s because we need to rethink the definition of “good.” Are there plot holes aplenty? Yes. Does the screenplay leave some things unresolved? For sure. Will you LOL while you watch this movie? Mhmmm. Will you have a damn good time watching it with your #squad, gently nudging each other every time a feminist joke is made or the patriarchy is gently nudged in the ribs? Damn right. Does it feature alll the cameos from stigma-shattering, female legends? You bet! So, can that be enough? It’s enough for me.
Photos: Columbia Pictures