Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and storytelling in the ruptured now


By eliminating the question of ‘how’ when providing the audience with an image, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle exists in permanent shorthand, caricaturing the borderless access that narrative agents are given within the genre, to appear outside the confines of narrative sense (cause and effect), to exist outside of time and space. McG plays these contextless but irrefutable statements about worldwide happenings through an aesthetic fragmentation that means everything is delivered with the artifice of an editorial shoot, stitched in motion according to the logic of a (preview only) music video countdown. The viewer is only ever the receiver, never the maker or interpreter of knowledge, because Full Throttle‘s substance is style’s unity. It imagines itself in conflict with television, mimicking the takeover of a channel that now only plays highlights of and trailers for imaginary content.

This telling strictly in crisis-mode, of seemingly disparate instants that subconsciously tie together to express a single agenda (tell a shared story) can’t not echo and disparage the 24 hour news cycle, but Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is less interested in propaganda than it is the potential for narrative cohesion in a world where the immediate has been forever ruptured. Where Richard Kelly scatters narrative threads to overwhelm the viewer’s processors and Mann mourns those trying to survive the dissolution of the physical, Full Throttle remains half optimistic. In a sense Natalie, Dylan, and Alex are all intellectual property reboot cyphers, subject to the expectation of the past and the hypermediacy of the present, to each chaotic (personal, cinematic) aesthetic change and run-in with a cameo, from soft focus ghosts (Jaclyn Smith) to fallen angels (Demi Moore), but the cast’s agility demonstrates less their acquiescence than their control of the film’s dislogic.

That there is never a comedown is remarkable, and so too is the sense of menace that accompanies farce. Full Throttle‘s automatic movement is regularly undermined by Barrymore’s Dylan who is given screen time (in a film that never breathes) to emote sincerely that she fears for her life when her abusive ex (Theroux’s Seamus) is released from prison, and Glover’s Thin Man comes out more spectral and bizarre for the film’s desire to pull him out of the shadows and explain him. Forsythe’s voice acting is perfectly fragile in his scene with Madison- still tender, but like his world’s just fallen in, and Moore balances discomfort with something approaching formidable.

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