“Charlies Angels” (2019)
Running time: 119 minutes
Written and Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Featuring: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska , Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Nat Faxon and Patrick Stewart
Jane Kano: “I need you to exhibit some attention-seeking behavior.”
Sabina Wilson: “I have so many ideas.”
Released this week is the reboot/sequel, frankly I don’t know what, adaptation of the 1970s television series “Charlies Angels” (2019) that ups the ante of female empowerment so much that is basically almost two hours of pandering, unimaginative and frankly trope ridden drivel that for me is by far the worst movie of the year, for me it’s a missed opportunity of the highest calibre. I have to be honest and say I found little of any redeeming value within this movie at all, from the production to the cast and of course the writer and director who seem to have been given permission to write some woke fan fiction that sits lifelessly onscreen with terrible effects, dialogue and action that I would be embarrassed to call my own.
Interestingly the idea of a rebooted “Charlies Angels” is not a bad one, in fact in this day and age it seems quite obvious to have a movie solely based around women as protagonists as well as being a united force to fight villains. However, that would require some skill in the writing and directing of that kind of narrative without it being a formula, which is where this and other like-minded movies fall down. It may look from the outside that these movies are easy to write and direct but that would be because of the ease the successful ones look like on the surface. The only comparable franchises of a similar ilk are the “Mission Impossible” (1996-present), “James Bond” (1962-present) and to a lesser extent the “Fast and Furious” (2001-present) which all succeed for better or for worse because they attempt to change, offer spectacle, have interwoven narratives and are constructed down to the smallest detail. All these aspects are absent with “Charlies Angels” which makes it just lazy and unforgivable when you are comparing it to those other franchises.
“Charlies Angels” concerns a team of Angels, led by senior operative John Bosley, who capture international embezzler Jonny Smith. A year later, the European division of the Townsend Agency is informed that Elena Houghlin, an engineer and programmer employed by entrepreneur Alexander Brock, wants to expose her superiors, namely Brock’s head of development, Peter Fleming, for covering up a discovery about how an energy conservation device that she helped invent named Calisto has the potential to trigger fatal seizures when used. She meets with operative Edgar “Bosley” in Hamburg to turn over her findings, but an assassin named Hodak ambushes the meeting and subsequently kills Edgar and leaves Elena to drown. Edgar’s protégé, Jane Kano, rescues her and brings her to operative Rebekah “Bosley” with the help of her partner, Sabina Wilson.
Written and directed by Elizabeth Banks who had some success with “Pitch Perfect 2” (2015) but for me not enough to write and direct the first of a franchise that contains more than singing and comedy but has, or is supposed to have memorable relationships and action scenes, of which this really has nothing memorable, a crime considering this is, more or less, a genre movie. Not only is the plot a re-tread of almost any subplot of a spy movie but the direction is aimless, boring and not enough bang for your buck. There are plenty of other internal logic elements that leave me cold as do the set pieces which for the most part seem to be thrown together, why they exist I am not sure. The conclusion to the movie is another aspect that is just trite and self-serving, if I were a woman I would not appreciate the pandering because it doesn’t work, makes no sense and I would not want to be a part of any organisation that obviously exists in a. Vacuum.
I could talk about performances, but the material gives nothing to these actresses to really perform, except for nonsense and broad boring gender driven rubbish, so self-serving that I find it hard to believe there was no one pushing back to say it really does not work. Almost every man is bad and all the women are good, this is just sexual politics gone to a degree that would make racial stereotypes turn in their grave.
I have kept this review short because basically there is little to nothing to grab on to with this movie. In some cases, there can be elements of even bad movies to enjoy, the latest ‘Terminator’ movie is similar with its female protagonists, but here are some things that are good, the action, CGI and welcoming back of past characters inject the movie with a lot, is it a good movie? No, but it is watchable much more than “Charlies Angels”.