Charlie’s Angels: Film Review

I cannot overstate how much I love the original Charlie’s Angels films starring Cameron Diaz (I miss her), Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. I have seen them countless times, have them on DVD and can quote them a fair bit. I don’t feel the world is really ready for a new instalment in the franchise but this one still deserves a chance.

The 2019 edition works as an origin story for a new trio of Angels working for Charles Townsend, now the anonymous boss of an international detective agency run by multiple Bosleys, played by Elizabeth Banks (also director, co-writer and producer), Patrick Stewart and Djimon Hounsou. The action primarily follows Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), a scientist who helped build a revolutionary energy device named Calisto. She knows it can also be used as a weapon and is not ready for sale and someone wants her to keep quiet. Existing Angels Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) and Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) are forced to work as a team to protect Elena and destroy all the Calisto devices.

First things first, I think this film has been done dirty by the marketing. Most people think it’s a reboot when it’s not – it acknowledges all the existing Angels that have come before – and the clips in the trailer make it look rubbish. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case. In truth, it is sadly a mixed bag – it starts off quite weak but then gets better and better as it goes along and becomes the film I was hoping it would be towards the end.

The issue is the film is too caught up with its globe-trotting plot and forgets to develop these characters and make us like them until later. A lot happens and while it is fairly fun to watch I would have preferred more character moments so we could learn more about them and their backgrounds. What I love about the previous Charlie’s Angels is that they are a sisterhood and firm friends and that vital component is missing here. Elena is a complete newbie, all wide-eyed awe and naiveté, while Jane and Sabina don’t initially work well together as they prefer to do things solo. The film became so much better when all three started working as a team and showed so much promise in the credits montage teasing Elena officially becoming an Angel. For this reason, I would love a sequel because I truly believe it found its footing towards the end and would be fully awesome next time. But I doubt they will have the opportunity given the box office numbers.

It doesn’t help that the plot relies too heavily on “oh, this person got away” and “oh, this object got away” as reasons why the action needs to continue, so it’s not the most inspired. Like the first two movies, this one has a twist that reveals the mission wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed. The twist was good and really stepped things up in terms of stakes but I struggled to follow the overly complicated plot, who was working for whom, and who was the true villain of the piece. The script also needed to be funnier and have more light-hearted moments.

I figured that this film wouldn’t use the ridiculous slo-mo stunts (or The Prodigy heavy soundtrack) of the other two but I was disappointed that they used guns so much as I loved the hand-to-hand combat of the others. There is plenty of action though and Balinska nails it in these sequences. She is damn badass and cool.

In fact, British newcomer Balinska is the star of the show. Banks said recently on Graham Norton that she wanted to find a new action heroine and Balinska is absolutely that. She looks strong and fierce, is super tall and is very capable in action scenes. I love Stewart (I’m sure you’re all aware) and I was surprised that she signed up for this. She hasn’t done a blockbuster in years. I really enjoyed seeing her doing something completely different – being the goofy, quirky one tasked with delivering the most laughs (“mo’ money, mo’ problems” killed me). I wanted to see her do more cool action moves – she’s generally the attention-seeking diversion while Jane does the hard stuff. Scott was a revelation in Aladdin and she is very likeable here. She’s the audience’s eyes into this new world and a smart scientist and hacking whizz to boot. I loved her first fight scene too. I must also mention the work of the fantastic wardrobe department.

Charlie’s Angels had to do a lot to justify its existence and it doesn’t quite achieve it. It gets so good in the final 45 minutes but it’s a case of too little too late. That’s a real shame because I think there is great potential in the new characters and the three actresses and I would personally love another movie showing them working as an official Angel team.

In cinemas Friday 29th November 

Rating: 3/5

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  1. […] prepare for the release of the latest Charlie’s Angels film (see review here), I decided to rewatch the previous two starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. It […]

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