Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

(In theaters, June 2003) I loved the original film for its sense of go-for-broke energy and its casual disregard for mere conventions such as, oh, physics. The sequel is bigger, louder and even more furious than the original (the opening dam sequence is a perfect Big Dumb Action Sequence; I was left wishing for more, more, more!) but somewhere along the way, the delirious pace starts working against itself. More money and more attention has made director McG a needy and insecure director. The fantastic long shots, the mean focus, the clear palette of the original are gone and replaced with mayhem, chaos and confusion. It doesn’t work quite as well; the composition of the shots lacks confidence and clarity; we’re left with grittier pictures, sequences with few outstanding shots and a sense that someone is just trying too hard to win our approval. Not that I’m a demanding viewer; in this case, the adorable goofiness of Cameron Diaz (plus my unquenchable thirst for more Lucy Liu) is enough to make me giddy with excitement. Some of the stunts are, indeed pretty cool and Charlie’s Angels 2 is a beautiful monument to nonsensical blockbuster-making. But the structure is off (Demi Moore’s true alignment it revealed much too late), the subplots are irrelevant (did we need all of those back-stories?) and even capable players like John Cleese, Crispin Glover and Bernie Mac aren’t particularly well-used. Heck, I shouldn’t complain: There are some very cool moments (Lucy Liu doing the ferret; the use of Edwin Collins’ “A Girl Like You”; Crispin Glover’s backstory; the CSI sequence) but it’s not as purely entertaining as the first one. Darn!

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