Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (**½)

Posted on June 2nd, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

******************** Caution: May contain spoilers ********************

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is a good, solid, entertaining, escapist summer film. In addition to the stunts, explosions, prurience, humor, and action you would expect from this movie, there is also a dash of drama and a pinch of…well…tragedy. Nothing heavy-handed, mind you, but integrated well into the story and a bit unexpected.

Sadly, my first thought after leaving the theater was that seeing this film has caused me to like the Matrix films even less than I already do. The Angels director, McG, and company have of course included the requisite big-budget, CGI driven stunts that the movie studios expect that summer audiences expect from this type of film. I’m okay with that, in theory. However, my understanding is that the Angels, while being quite good at what they do (solving cases, kicking asses, titillating), are not superheroes, and they do not have any superhuman capabilities, nor do their adversaries. How, then, are they able to regularly violate the laws of physics? I’m not talking about a kung-fu move that seems implausible, I’m talking about the ability to change direction in mid-air, the ability to dodge bullets, and the ability to fly (or at least glide) by virtue of the aerodynamic properties of a lace blouse. I mean, I’ve never seen Stevie Nicks get airborne, and she’s spent most of her career spinning around in lace tops.

The blame is shared by the popularity of the Matrix films and the herd mentality of Hollywood. Even though I don’t care for the Matrix films, I will freely admit that the superhuman activities of their characters makes perfect sense within the logic of the story. Those same activities are ridiculous in a film like Full Throttle. Seeing McG insert these slavishly-wannabe-Matrix segments into his film was disheartening, as my opinion after the first Angels film was that he was developing a unique voice as a filmmaker. He still might, but I hope if there’s another film in this franchise that he remembers that there are a lot of folks in the audience like me, who will buy (and have probably come to see) the implausible, but who find themselves completely jolted out of the enjoyment of the film by seeing the impossible.

With the exception of this bad case of Matrix-pox, I enjoyed Full Throttle. The girls are very cute, Demi Moore is sufficiently menacing as the bad gal, the cameos are well done, and the soundtrack is nearly perfect. And the special effects, even if inappropriate, are also well done and state of the art. Bernie Mac is pretty funny as the new Bosley, and they handle the transition from Bill Murray fairly smoothly. The story revolves around the Federal Witness Protection program, and the various underworld syndicates (Japanese, Italian, Irish, etc) who want to get their hands on the list of hidden witnesses. The film even delves deeper into the back-story of one particular Angel, but I won’t spoil it by telling you which one. In a totally unrelated note, Drew Barrymore is one of the producers of the film.

So now there are two Charlie’s Angels films, and I hope they make more. Given the ensemble nature of the cast, I could see this turning into a Bond-like franchise, with the Angel’s roles being passed down to each successive generation of new, young, upwardly mobile stars. As long as they keep the mix of humor, action, and drama I’ll be looking forward to it.

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