Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Premise: An adaptation of the 1970s television show. A systems engineer (Naomi Scott) is taken under the protection of women of intrigue (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) who are part of a covert spy agency.
What Works: The core cast of Charlie’s Angels is a likable group. This story is about a trio of women coming together and they complement each other adequately. Each of the team members has a specialty and a distinct personality. Naomi Scott plays a computer mastermind who is new to spy craft and Scott’s character is overwhelmed by the circumstances she’s been thrust into while Ella Balinska is cast as the cool headed former MI-6 agent. The biggest surprise of Charlie’s Angels is Kristen Stewart as the impulsive and high energy member of the group. Stewart’s performances have typically been very staid but in Charlie’s Angels she gets to be kinetic and glib and Stewart is quite funny. It’s interesting how the 2019 version of Charlie’s Angels relates to its previous incarnations. This film exists in continuity with the television show and the 2000s films starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu. It also plays on the central hook of the series. Charlie’s Angels is about the way these women weaponize femininity and turn it back on male villains. The 2019 version commits to that idea and has some fun with it; the filmmakers pick up on sexism in both its gross and subtle forms and pay it back.
What Doesn’t: Everything about this new version of Charlie’s Angels is average. It is a little funny and a little exciting but it’s never very much of either. The picture doesn’t have the campy appeal of the original television show and the 2000s films nor does it have the edgy style of contemporary action pictures. It also doesn’t marry the action and comedy as successfully as films like Paul Feig’s Spy or Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 21 Jump Street. The stakes of 2019’s Charlie’s Angels are never very high. The drama of the film is never any more absorbing than an episode of a CW television show and the movie frequently has equivalent production values. This film is still recognizably Charlie’s Angels but it does little that is new with the material. The female characters sport contemporary fashions but we’ve seen all this before and nothing distinguishes this film. Absent of a fresh approach to the material, this film comes across redundant.
Bottom Line: Charlie’s Angles is not a bad film but it is numbingly average. The picture is satisfying enough to be passable entertainment but it’s also unmemorable.
Episode: #777 (November 24, 2019)