Charlie's Angels Movie Review
When did banality and pandering become okay? Just steal from Hong Kong, The Matrix, and a kitschy TV show from the mid-1970s and that's a movie? Charlie's Angels is one of the worst examples of action film homogeneity and shameless duplicity in any film I've seen in ages.
Charlie's Angels is dumb. Just plain dumb. As we all know, three of the hottest females on the planet -- Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu -- are three super-agents working for the mysterious millionaire named Charlie. They all drive fast cars, look oh-so-fabulous even in the morning, and don't seem to get a scratch even when fighting armed men, having buildings explode ten feet in front of them, or flying through the air in Matrix slow-motion. And while the entourage spends 90 minutes romping around in cleavage-busting wetsuits, cleavage-busting waitress uniforms, and cleavage-busting wet t-shirts, they scarcely succeed in resembling so much as a group of annoying, drunk sorority girls, the kind who hit on everybody at a party.
The actual plot revolves around the ridiculous story of a millionaire computer engineer -- the great Sam Rockwell -- who gets kidnapped by a mysterious rival computer company. Of course, the rival wants control of his new personal identification system, which involves such latter-day buzzwords as GPS, cellular tracking, and even mainframe. The amazing Crispin Glover lends his acting chops as a crazed henchmen involved in all the nasty things that happen to the Angels -- like battling each of them in many round-robin Matrix rip-off (again) fight sequences and harboring a strange attraction to sliced-off locks of the Angels' hair. The coup de grace is Bill Murray as Bosley, serving as Charlie's manservant, or, more to the point, the Angels' pimp.
The rest of the movie comprises a revenge arc, enough costume changes to fill three productions of Les Miserables, carbon-copy fight sequences that would lend credible evidence to a Jackie Chan and the Wachowski brothers lawsuit for intellectual property theft, and the strange transformation of Sam Rockwell into Mickey Rourke's long-lost brother.
Charlie's Angels starts off with a bang and ends up being a soggy burrito left out overnight. Nothing is difficult, plausible, or believable in any of the Angels' actions. It feels like The Matrix, Mission: Impossible 2, and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold all rolled into one. Diaz is a knucklehead. Barrymore is the "dangerous one," mean and tough and about as believable as Katie Holmes in the role. Liu is just... Lucy Liu, looking good in a skin-tight black leather suit.
The list of movies from which Charlie's Angels is directly lifted is equally astonishing. The writers apparently ran the copier all night stealing scenes from Armageddon, Lethal Weapon II, all of Jackie Chan's movies, The Great Escape, Saturday Night Fever, Revenge of the Nerds, Payback, Darkman, Dr. No, The Matrix (as mentioned), and even TV's Friends. It's a shame, too, because one of the many screenwriters, John August, was at the helm of last year's favorite, Go. Then again, what can you expect from a director known solely as "McG."
There is no camp value in the film, no interesting main characters, no invigorating action scenes, no reason at all to waste your time except to ogle the hot chicks and enjoy the performances of a few supporting players. Note to Hollywood: Next time, let's leave the TV shows on the TV.
If you are going to see the film, the DVD is definitely the way to go -- its vibrant and loud presentation overwhelming any triteness you might detect. Tons of extras are included -- outtakes and a billion little documentaries about the production -- but it's McG's director commentary that is just so overwhelmingly energetic and enthusiastic that it almost makes you forget that Drew Barrymore can't act. Almost.
My name is Charlie. They swim for me.