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Review – Charlie’s Angels (2019)

Good Morning Angels. Good Morning Un-Necessary Reboot !

Charlie’s Angels was a hit TV show, an early 2000’s couple of films then an ill fated 4 episode TV show in 2011 that tried to do away with the campy fun and ground the show with a more serious tone, it failed spectacularly and instead of learning from their mistakes, Elizabeth Banks has come along to offer more of this serious tone resulting in a disappointing reboot that fails to ignite any fun. This version of Charlie’s Angels is all #MeToo’ed up painting the men as the villainous patriarchy. The film was directed and the script adapted by Elizabeth Banks (who also stars in a supporting role) what could have been a breath of fresh air for the series, has resulted in another disappointing attempt to revive a series that should probably just stay buried.

The film follows the Townsend agency which has gone international since we last saw the Angels with branches in every state and a Bosley’s in every continent. The story follows Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) who has just retired the founding Bosley (Patrick Stewart, an older version of Bill Murray’s character from the previous films) when the agency takes on a mission to protect Jane (Ella Balinska) who has discovered a major security flaw in a new tech item about to be released to the market that could have devastating effects if put in the wrong hands. The Angels are called into protect her with Elena (Naomi Scott) and Sabina (Kristen Stewart) joining forces to protect her and stop the tech from getting into the wrong hands.

The film opens with a montage of women in different countries and while it is trying its best to convey the international appeal of the movie, it ends up looking like stock footage the studio bought at the last minute to set the atmosphere as “international” although depressingly it just comes off as cheap and looks out of place. The film jumps to a lot of different locations across the world and instead of location based filming or convincing sets, the backgrounds are drenched in cheap CGI that completely take the viewer out of the film.

It’s not all bad news, Kristen Stewart is fantastic in this film, she is so incredibly funny and bad-ass. she is the only Angel with a remotely interesting back story and her antics make her the most enjoyable character. Regrettably the other 2 main Angels are bland and generic female characters, while Scott and Balinska do the best with the terrible material they have been given so it is easily forgivable. Banks seems wildly out of place in the film and should have perhaps stayed behind the camera. Patrick Stewart is the male stand out clearly having a ton of fun with the crazy antics that his character is allowed to venture into. Especially towards the end of the film when his character cranks into full gear.

The script was adapted by Elizabeth Banks from a story written by David Auburn. The story is clunky at best feeling like a set piece to move the characters around different locations to once again, unconvincingly sell the film as an international affair. The characters walk around chanting lines like “Women can do anything” and making multiple references to the patriarchy instead of just smartly using the story to portray it. The 2 hour run time is about 30 minutes too long and could have benefited from some tighter editing. The film took a while to get into gear, making it grounded and serious with splashes of light that oddly turn full camp mode in the final act of the film. There is a choreographed dance to “Bad Girl” that is the saving point of the movie. From this point the morning turns into a more action comedy as advertised and by the time the credits roll you are wishing that there was more of this and less of the first half.

Director Banks tackles the camera well, the film’s opening sequence is a gorgeous close up on Stewart while she is conversing with her current target. This is transitioned well into the first big fight scene where the Angels take out a room full of bad guys. It’s a shame that for the rest of the movie the action scenes are choppy and rough. For a first action film directing attempt it is something that really needs to be carefully refined and hopefully moving forward this can only improve.

The good news is for fans the budget was only $49 million, which means it won’t have to do amazingly to greenlight a sequel and keep the franchise going. Hopefully if it does earn more entries, the cast can spend more time together to get some chemistry going (there was none at all!) and a more original story that doesn’t borrow from the previous films and TV shows (bad guy mis-direction, technology being used to destroy the world, the agency blows up). In another odd move, and the ultimate cinema sin the “Good Morning Angels” classic line does not appear in the film until the mid credits scene. If you can forgive this then this might be the reboot for you.

Charlies Angels 2019 comes off as just ok with some great performances from its cast but is hugely let down by its low budge special effects and derivative plot that sinks under a weak script. The poorly shot and edited action sequences are a detriment to the film and the severe lack of fun echoed through the cinema when jokes fell extremely flat. The future is looking bright though, the end of the film seemed to get past these hurdles and point towards a brighter future for the franchise. If you are looking for fun and big action stay home and watch Charlies Angels 2000 and the criminally underrated Full Throttle on Prime Video. Charlies Angels 2019 is not worth your cinema dollars, best to wait for streaming for this one.

Charlies Angels is in cinemas now.

Review by Alaisdair Leith

Criterion 1
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