Charlie’s Angels is a continuation of the rebooted 2000 franchise with new lead stars and a girl power on steroids theme. This #MeToo era incarnation from writer/director Elizabeth Banks retreads the same plot points, but is decidedly more aggressive. The new trio of Angels ramp up the beatdowns and body count of bad men with casual flair. They lack the chemistry of their predecessors with uneven performances. Big action scenes add a few fun moments, but not enough to distinguish the film. Charlie’s Angels is more of the same with less star power.
The Townsend Detective Agency has gone international. Bosley (Patrick Stewart) has opened branches in different countries around the world. On the eve of his retirement after forty years, he leaves a cadre of new Bosleys to run the show. Charlie’s still in charge via the familiar speaker box, but it’s a group effort now.
Naomi Scott stars as Elena Houghlin, a systems engineer who has designed revolutionary, compact power generators called Calisto. She warns her sexist boss (Nat Faxon) that a flaw in the programming makes each Calisto device a potential EMP weapon. Ignored and fearful, Elena is mysteriously put in contact with Germany’s Bosley (Djimon Hounsou). Their secret meeting is disrupted by a lethal assassin (Jonathan Tucker). Bosley’s best Angels, the wild heiress Sabina (Kristen Stewart), and Jane (Ella Balinska), an icy former MI6 agent, come to their rescue. They protect Elena while trying to recover the Calisto prototypes. The plot thickens when another Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) warns of a traitor in their midst.
Charlie’s Angels plays out in pretty much the same way as the previous two theatrical releases. Bad guys, no bad women of course, have dangerous tech, team pulls off a sophisticated burglary, and the real villain is someone close to them. It’s been nineteen years since the Cameron Diaz fronted Charlie’s Angels, so why bother to be creative? That may work on newbies, but not with audiences who are familiar with the earlier films. The difference being that the McG directed films didn’t take themselves seriously. Elizabeth Banks hammers in female empowerment against oppressive, evil men but doesn’t deviate from a stale formula.
Naomi Scott saves the new crew of Angels with the range of her performance. Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinksa don’t offer much personality or likeability. Balinksa is the muscle while Stewart offers quips and lesbian innuendo. Scott goes from wide-eyed, frazzled computer nerd to Krav Maga dishing bad-ass. She’s the eager new recruit that takes the audience along for the Angels rollercoaster ride. They do not match the compatibility of the classic Angels iterations. A scene where Balinksa shows a smidgen of emotion towards Stewart lands with a thud.
Charlie’s Angels has action a plenty, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Everything is over the top as expected. Bullets fly, cars explode, and hapless men, again no bad women, get pummelled mercilessly. Elizabeth Banks throws a veiled barb as Blonde Bosley about the silliness of the Fast & Furious car chases. She’s right about them being overblown, but is definitely hypocritical when her car scenes are cut from the same cloth.
Charlie’s Angels is not as fun as the earlier versions. The new cast struggles to be charismatic in a recycled plot. Elizabeth Banks goes overboard with the girl power message. The film never held my interest. Charlie’s Angels is produced by 2.0 Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, and Perfect World Pictures with distribution by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
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