“Charlie’s Angels,” directed by Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect 2”), is a movie meant for all the women who have ever had a condescending man talk down to them, for all the women in male-dominated fields who have to deal with misogynists every day. It’s meant for all the women who have had to sit through countless male-driven films in the past, forced to be appeased by the presence of a single female who serves as a vehicle for “equality.” It’s for all the women who have been told to “smile” and “look pretty” and who have been called “good girls” by men who don’t know them or care to know them. It’s for women who need to be empowered.
This film takes all the best parts of the previous renditions of “Charlie’s Angels” and incorporates all the feminist ideals present in modern day society, so you’re left with an action-packed, intense but shockingly real movie that makes you feel.
One thing that makes this movie so interesting to watch is the thread of inverting common media tropes. There is a minor love story, sure, but it’s not the primary plot. It’s not even the secondary plot. Noah Centineo (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”) plays Langston, one of Elena’s colleagues, and has an almost laughably small role. In fact, he takes the role of the damsel in distress and is, in essence, the token male. It’s about time we had a movie where there were hardly any men, and the few guys who are present are either hilariously incompetent, like Alexander Brock (Sam Claflin, “Me Before You”), or reduced to minor love interests like Centineo.
The three leads of the film all take on a different strength found in women and a different “flaw” typically attributed to them. Then, they cleverly invert the “stereotype” forced upon them. There’s quirky and chaotic heiress-turned-convict-turned-Angel Sabina (Kristen Stewart, “Twilight”) who is confident but self-centered. Then you have Jane (Ella Balinska, “Juction 9”), a fearless and fierce former MI6 agent who was let down by her agency one too many times and lost hope and trust in people, leaving her seemingly emotionless and guarded. And finally, exceedingly bright but soft-spoken Elena, a scientist — and newbie to the Angel world — who lets her sexist superiors patronize and push her around (Naomi Scott, “Aladdin”). By the end of the movie, the characters make something more out of their so-called flaws. Forever-confident Sabina finds a reason to care about other people, Jane lets herself be vulnerable and open up to people while maintaining the fierceness that defines her character, and Elena stands up for herself and shows off the intelligence she’s always known she has.
The movie doesn’t shy away from letting the women be women. They’re not just agents who fight crime while looking good — they have real emotions. One of the most meaningful scenes in the film finds the three leads on a quiet boat following an intense fight. They’re sitting together, all half-asleep on one another, just enjoying each other’s presence. What makes the moment especially tender is the presence of a little girl. She interacts seamlessly with the Angels, all of whom talk to her and play with her. While these women might be machines when it comes to taking down bad guys, they’re not robots.
Even though that scene is one of my favorite moments from the whole film, it’s not the best part of the movie. It’s not Sabina’s humor or Jane’s epic fight scenes or even Elena’s opportunity to stand up for herself, either. The best part of the movie, as cliche as it might sound, is the message it leaves for all the women in the audience. There is no one perfect model of a woman. Anyone can be an Angel. Whether you’re a little weird, physically strong or intimidatingly intelligent, you have the makings of an Angel. Previous “female team-up” movies try to get the same message across, but I’ve always found that the women favored in those films are all the scarily strong and physically fit ones. That’s not the case in “Charlie’s Angels.” Here, you’ll find yourself loving and relating to various aspects of the incredibly different — but equally inspiring — women on screen.
While “Charlie’s Angels” can and should be enjoyed by everyone — men and women alike — it is, first and foremost, a movie meant to empower women. This movie strengthens women’s beliefs in themselves and gives them the opportunity to find what makes them Angels.