Elizabeth Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels” is a fun way to pass through a few hours over the Thanksgiving holiday, but, unfortunately, it isn’t much more than that.
Charlie’s Angels has been a cultural icon for decades, but for many members of the younger generations, the only real exposure to them has been through second-hand references on shows like “The Office” or “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” That changed Nov.15, as we finally got a modern-day iteration of the iconic spy thriller franchise.
However, it ended up being less of an edge-of-your-seat adventure, as one would expect it to be, and more of a lukewarm attempt at a comedy or action film.
The main factor holding this movie back is the lackluster nature of its plot and general storytelling. Banks opts for a stereotypical “There’s a dangerous weapon out there, and we can’t let the bad guy get their hands on it,” type of story, which has been done countless times, and each one is less exciting than the last.
Using a clichéd story is not a problem, but when a certain story structure gets used this much it removes all sense of tension from the film. The audience knows within the first 15 minutes the basic chain of events for the entire film because practically every spy movie since “Dr. No” has done the exact same thing.
Another aspect of weak storytelling comes in the form of character development, which is a shame because the film has some very interesting main characters. Kristen Stewart’s character is a chaotic-neutral wildcard who is revealed to have been an heiress to some sort of fortune, but for some reason, she gave it up.
The main character Elena, played by Naomi Scott, is a tech developer who becomes fed up with not being taken seriously about a safety issue, becomes a whistleblower, survives being targeted by a professional assassin and then promptly decides to become a spy.
These are both incredibly colorful foundations on which to build a character, but the movie never takes that step. Both characters remain as a concept throughout the whole film with no character development. Characters played by Banks and Ella Balinska aren’t even given that much and remain complete blank slates with no tangible development or backstory. This lack of development makes an already clichéd story more bland.
The soundtrack continues the theme of mediocrity by being nothing more than generic orchestral tracks and unfitting pop music. There were several moments in the film where it seemed like the speakers randomly connected to some makeup tutorial because the music was just so out of place for what is supposed to be a spy thriller. The music could have been for the movie to salvage some semblance of tone or tension, but it also falls short in that aspect.
The film does not reign mediocre in every area, however, as the comedic elements actually work quite well for what they are. The jokes, mostly coming from Stewart’s character, are well-written, punchy and well delivered, giving the movie a bit of flavor for what is otherwise a saltine cracker of a film. Stewart gives a commendable performance as the comic relief and this movie would put one to sleep without her character’s one-liners.
This is not a bad movie by any means, but it also certainly is not a good movie by any means. With nothing to keep you hooked but also nothing to make you turn away, it’s a good movie to turn your brain off and relax for a while. “Charlie’s Angels” is nothing more than a movie to passively pay attention to while it’s playing on Freeform during the holidays.