Directed by McG.
Written by Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon and John August.
Starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 11/5/00
I have been looking forward to killing this
movie ever since I saw the first preview for it two months ago, and
I am happy to report that, while I cannot give it my lowest rating
available, I am still gonna run it into the ground.
Unless you have been living in a cave, you
know that “Charlie's Angels” is based on the 1970s television series
of the same name. In that series, three beautiful women work as
private investigators for an anonymous millionaire named Charlie,
getting missions in briefings from a middle man that works with
Charlie and then going out and fighting all manners of bad guys in
and around Los Angeles. Like “Mission: Impossible”, the women were
usually undercover in disguise and used their esteemed looks and
charm—not to mention their smarts—to foil the forces of evil.
And so, keeping faithful to the show, the
2000 update of “Charlie's Angels” keeps the setup intact. This
time, the Angels (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu) have to
locate the designer of some voice-recognition software (Sam
Rockwell) who has been kidnapped, quite possibly by a competitor
(Tim Curry), and then the Angels need to locate the software
itself. To be honest, the plot is useless and at some point it
becomes so convoluted—and then very tritely explained to us as if we
were fourth graders—that you could care less why the Angels are
doing what they are doing.
And really, I don't want to talk about the
plot anyway. Like the TV show, the writing here is very easy on the
mind to digest and doesn't get in the way too much of the action.
What I really want to talk about today is
the action in this film. As many of you know, I am a die-hard
action-adventure fan, and further, I am a HUGE John Woo fan.
Nothing makes me happier than to show supposed hard-core action fans
a copy of “The Killer” or “Hard Boiled”, quite simply the two best
shoot-'em-ups ever made. Both were directed by Woo and star Chow
Yun-Fat, by far the greatest actor on God's green earth. And, both
employ large portions of Woo's patented slow-motion choreography,
making his bloody epics look more beautiful than a naked Jennifer
Lopez on your doorstep.
So, you can imagine the absolute horror on
my face when the first action sequence in “Charlie's Angels”
begins. As you have probably seen in the preview, the action looks
very “Matrix”-esque, with lots of spinning, flipping martial arts
(Lots of profanity will be used below.)
Okay, so here is the setup: The angels are
chasing the bad guy's main henchman (Crispin Glover; if he looks
familiar to you, just go back and watch “Back to the Future”)
through an alley, and finally they get to a fence. There are some
boxes in front of this fence, stacked maybe eight feet high. Some
extremely hard-driving music by the Crystal Method starts playing,
and then Glover jumps *over* the boxes, turns 180 degrees, whips out
a pistol, and fires a full clip at the Angels, naturally missing all
three of the girls. Of course, all of this is shown in the
increasingly-abused stop-start cinematography method, which
“Charlie's Angels” bitch-slaps until it is black and blue. (I call
it this because in a scene, the movie is shown in almost
fast-forward until a moment of action, then the action is shown in
super-slo-mo, and then the film is sped up again to normal speed.)
After Glover finishes firing, he essentially
jumps over a 10-foot-high chain-link fence. Not climbed, mind
you...JUMPED. Then, the Angels follow suit (Diaz gets a lift over
from the other two Angels, then the other two just jump over the
fence, too). The martial arts that takes place after all four are
on the other side of the fence is not just bad, it is offensive. I
mean, this is some fucking shit! This one scene alone should make
hard-core action fans walk out of the theater. There are more
wireline stunts in this one scene alone than there is rice in
China. I mean, come on! My jaw was touching the fucking floor as
Glover would land a kick in an Angel's chest, and she would fly 20
or 30 feet, through a fence or into a brick wall, then get up and
keep fighting! The writers of this movie are actually betting on
the fact that either you did not see “The Matrix” or any other
martial arts movie ever made, because the writers and the film's
director, some muthafucka named “McG” (that is his fucking name!!)
steal from movies of the very recent past like their lives depended
on it!! I mean, this is brutal! I don't mind bad...but, I do mind
bad and ripped off, and this scene is the basis for all of the
suffering in our world. I went to the theater by myself, and I was
looking for someone to just look at and say “are you kidding me?” I
was so pissed off yesterday after just this one scene, because it is
literally offensive to the regular moviegoer.
The other action sequences are like this:
an inordinate number of kicks thrown by the angels hit their target
after they have been in the air for about 15 feet. I mean, by the
time Barrymore is bound to a chair and kicking five henchmen all
over creation, you aren't even laughing anymore because it has gone
beyond ridiculous. She eventually sheds the chair and jumps up
(while her hands are still tied behind her back) and lands a perfect
split kick that sends two men flying in the air off-screen and into
a wall. Even comic books don't make kicks look this ridiculous.
There are other things about the movie that
just aren't very good: the sheer lack of big stars make this movie
one the biggest collections of “hey, wasn't he in....” you will ever
find, which makes the choices of bad guys like Curry, Glover, and
Kelly Lynch as Rockwell's partner all the more forgettable. The
disguises in this movie are pretty creative, and they do provide a
few chuckles. But, do these PIs need to use them to accomplish
their mission? The way the girls are always hugging and saying “Hi
Charlie!” like little schoolgirls will annoy anyone who considers
themselves a man. And, I want to reiterate again what I have been
saying now for a couple of years: Cameron Diaz is just not hot!
There is a scene in this movie where the girls are getting onto the
beach and they are shedding some clothing; when the camera does a
close-up of Diaz's chest, I heard at least a few groans from other
male members of the audience, who were clearly not impressed with
what the director clearly thought was the hottest thing in the
movie. Hmm...scary! Cameron, eat a donut, for Chrissake! Hell,
eat anything! You are fading before my eyes! This movie also falls
victim to what “Get Carter” did last month, its shameless
over-editing that will make you go blind if you come in with a
hangover. Barrymore, while hot, still looks 14 to me and that does
not make a very convincing ass-kicker.
And, once again, the Angels do NOT carry
guns! All of the bad guys do...but, apparently being able to fly
through the air and deliver startling roundhouse kicks will
suffice! The Angels not having guns is just silly, and made all the
more offensive because the women in the TV show of the 70s did carry
weapons. A surprising choice for a modern action movie.
Is it all bad? Unfortunately, it is not.
The soundtrack for the movie is pretty good, I have to admit, and it
features such a wild combination of songs that in successive scenes,
you could get some Crystal Method and Deee-Lite's “Groove Is In the
Heart.” Good choices, indeed! And, I did laugh once: Diaz has a
love interest (Luke Wilson, “Home Fries”, “Blue Streak”) that takes
her to a Soul Train taping in Los Angeles. One of the producers
asks Diaz to dance on-stage, and as the only white girl in the
studio, her dance skills are put on full display. This one scene
comes off great...and, the bit where Wilson gets props for being
with Diaz by three of the studio's bouncers is the best of the film.
Otherwise, I hate this movie and I hope to
never see it again.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard