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Charlie’s Angels Review

November 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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Charlie’s Angels Review  

Directed By: Elizabeth Banks
Written By: Elizabeth Banks, Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn
Runtime: 118 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for action/violence, language and some suggestive material

Kristen Stewart – Sabina Wilson
Naomi Scott – Elena Houghlin
Ella Balinska – Jane Kano
Elizabeth Banks – Rebekah Bosley
Patrick Stewart – John Bosley
Djimon Hounsou – Edgar Bosley
Sam Claflin – Alexander Brock
Jonathan Tucker – Hodak
Nat Faxon – Peter Fleming
Chris Pang – Jonny Smith
Noah Centineo – Langston
Luis Gerardo M̩ndez РSaint

Charlie’s Angels made its television debut back in 1976 and remains an iconic brand to this very day. The year 2000 saw the first theatrical reboot for the franchise, which later spawned a less successful sequel. 2011 saw a short-lived TV reboot. So, at least the producers let a new iteration marinate a little longer before trying things over again. Pitch Perfect 3 filmmaker Elizabeth Banks steps behind the camera for the latest Charlie’s Angels reboot. With unclear expectations, it’s a decent outing all things considered.

The 2019 update for Charlie’s Angels appears directly connected to the original series. Charlie Townsend’s agency has expanded into an international conglomerate that has spread all across the globe. After a team consisting of the highly capable Sabina Wilson (Stewart) and the lethal Jane Kano (Balinska) apprehend a rich criminal, the elderly John Bosley (Patrick Stewart) is ready to call it a career after 40 years, handing the reins over to his successor, the unrelated Rebekah Bosley (Banks).

Meanwhile in Germany, Elena Houghlin (Scott) warns her skeevy corporate boss, Peter Fleming (Faxon), that the clean energy smart device their company is looking to launch, Calisto, has a dangerous flaw that could lead to disaster. Elena, through serendipitous circumstances, manages to get ahold of the Townsend agency to blow the whistle on this corporation. Unfortunately, Elena is soon marked for death by a deadly, stoic assassin, Hodak (Jonathan Tucker), so Sabina and Jane have to move in to protect her. The encounter tragically separates Jane from her own Bosley, Edgar (Hounsou).

Time is against the Angels, and Hodak’s actions suggest there’s a traitor in their ranks. Elena is brought into the group as their next would-be recruit to track down the active prototypes for Calisto before nefarious forces weaponize them.

The casting for the film is solid and not really an issue. The direction is simply missing a certain type of confidence. The action scenes are fairly sloppy and badly edited. They are lacking in a certain intensity and sense of genuine suspense. It’s probably the weakest area for the film.

Banks’ direction is not terrible but less than outstanding. The style and tone of the reboot are certainly preferable than the ridiculous, goofy, cartoony, exaggerated antics of the McG films. For the most part, the reboot is fairly grounded. Granted, some might prefer the over-the-top and campy material of the two McG movies, but the new film has a refreshing back-to-basics, less frills style.

Believe it or not, Kristen Stewart as Sabina is the standout performer here. She tends to get a bad rap because of the Twilight films, as does Robert Pattinson. Sabina is charismatic and magnetic. She’s the most interesting and fully developed character out of the trio. While the conflict generally centers around Naomi Scott as Elena, Stewart tends to command the most presence. Also, she has the best chemistry in the group with Ella Balinska.

In terms of physicality, Ella Balinska as Jane looks like she was most capable one of the group in terms of handling the fight scenes and stunt work. There is a subplot involving Jane and Sabina that does not satisfy its full potential. There’s a sense of tension and rivalry between the two that does not fully play out. When the narrative reaches its predictable low-point, Ella has a vulnerable moment that’s oddly mistimed. It doesn’t follow the natural order for how the film establishes the Ella and Sabina dynamic. The moment is reminiscent of that part in Suicide Squad where Diablo declares Task Force X as his family, when that film had failed to build a believable bond and sense of camaraderie between the group. To sum up, there could’ve been a stronger sense of building the bonds between the Angels and their team interdependence.

In terms of the central trio, Naomi Scott is the weak link. Scott is performing the brainy scientist-turned-would-be rookie spy here, and it’s uneventful. Her character is more reminiscent of Jennifer Love Hewitt in that bad Jackie Chan movie, The Tuxedo. The worst moment of the movie is the depiction of Elena committing what amounts to manslaughter. It’s summarily lamp-shaded and swept under the rug. This could have been a major turning point and piece of character development for Elena, but it’s clumsily executed.

Patrick Stewart might be nearing 80, but he still pulls out an entertaining performance as the Bosley of the Townsend Agency’s US branch. Obviously, the Bosley idea has been reworked as a rank, which makes a lot more sense than the previous films.

In terms of writing, how the film chooses to acknowledge the original TV series and past films is interesting and rather clever. As a result, the new Charlie’s Angels serves as both a reboot of the franchise and a prolonged continuation of the original series, which fans will likely appreciate. Some homage is still given to the previous cinematic reboot. The Townsend Agency is depicted as this glitzy, modern-age Tesla Motors or Space X, but with spies.

As far as female-led action features or spy thrillers, Charlie’s Angels isn’t a groundbreaking game-changer, but it’s a passable cinematic reboot, especially in comparison to the goofy, vapid insanity of the McG movies. There’s definite potential within the cast if it’s successful enough to justify a sequel.

The final score: review Average
The 411
The 2019 Charlie's Angels reboot is surprisingly passable, female-centric action movie rebooting the iconic series. It's in no ways great or groundbreaking, but it's a decent diversion. The sloppy and underwhelming action fail to really elevate what could've been a far more exciting and entertaining film. Kristen Stewart puts in a impressive and entertaining performance. Had the action and stunt work been more polished, and some of the character interactions were bulked up, this could've been a better film. As it stands now, it has its good points, and there's potential if the juice is there to permit a sequel. This might not be worth a full price ticket, but action and spy fans might want to pay Charlie's Angels 2019 a look for a bargain matinee or Redbox rental.