Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Charlie's Angels

Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott in Charlie’s Angels

Elizabeth Banks helms this latest attempt to rejig the 70s Charlie’s Angels franchise, but despite some wit and zip it’s still a yawn targetted at millennials who scarcely know their Fawcett from their elbow.

Goofily tipping its hat to the original smallscreen 70s Angels and those two noughties outings (the ones with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore), but ignoring the failed attempt to get it going on TV again in 2011, this has a bland cast, weak gags, lethargic action sequences and a muddled plot that weirdly attempts to evoke #MeToo themes between all the silliness.

Top-billed Kristen Stewart is seen first as Sabina Wilson, a character that attempts to walk the line between being endlessley objectified and sexualised, while also rocking feminist ideals as she belts the stuffing out of various bad guys – with help from Jane Kano (the almost unknown and London-born Ella Balinska). Their boss Bosley then turns up to sing their praises, and he’s of course played by Patrick Stewart, who seems to be having fun, but is really just there to be Patrick Stewart.

Stewart evidently wanted to shed her surly image with this project, but she struggles with the snappy banter that the dopey material requires, and when she does smile the strain seems to be hurting her face.

It transpires that Bosley is soon to retire, and we see him lauded by a bunch of international ‘Bosleys’ back at Townsend Agency headquarters, and yes, one of them is played by Djimon Hounsou and another by director Banks herself. We’re then introduced to scientist Elena Houghlin (the also-English Naomi Scott from the new Aladdin), who’s been working on some vague alternative energy source called Calisto and has become convinced that it could be dangerously weaponised, but does her egomaniacal superior Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) care? Or indeed the nasty head of the company, one Alexander Brock (Sam Claflin, yet another English type)?

Elena is almost assassinated by her employers, but the Angels save her after a clumsy chase through Hamburg streets, and soon she’s being recruited by the gang, which is a good thing, as there really should be three of the young ‘uns, after all. They all try to stop Calisto (which look like large, flashing Dungeons & Dragons dice) falling into the wrong hands across various countries and in setpieces where guns are used (just about forbidden in the Diaz/Barrymore/Liu movies) but no one gets hurt much. Except the audience, of course.

If all that seems confused, convoluted and wearying then that’s because it is, but a sequel is promised at the end anyway, of course, while Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Ray croon Don’t Call Me Angel, which proves just about as forgettable as everything else here.

Reviewer Rating

Charlie’s Angels (M) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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