Good morning readers! Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels has had a bit of a rough time as of late. For one it hasn’t exactly set the Box Office on fire, and secondly it’s currently sitting on a lower Rotten Tomatoes than the 2000 entry directed by McG and that wasn’t exactly doing much in the way of female empowerment. But that’s not to say that the 2019 is a bad movie per-se, it’s just simply uninspired.
The film itself does try to break the mould a little bit in regards to the franchise. Where the original series and the movies from the early 2000’s saw the trio of heroines acting as part of a detective agency, the reboot switches it up and now features the characters acting as part of the international Townsend Agency. Now when I say uninspired this really does come across in a lot of the agency scenes, with much of it feeling like an inferior imitation of the Kingsman scenes – right down to the armoury in the back of a wardrobe scene from the first film.
The films principle cast of actresses do a good job with what they are given but the issue is that what they are give is so flimsy. Each Angel has one personality trait throughout the entire movie. Ella Balinska’s Jane is the serious one, Naomi Scott’s Elena is the Nerdy one and Kristen Stewart’s Sabina is the Quirky/Annoying one – something which anyone who has followed Stewart since Twilight, knows that’s something the actress can handle.
As I stated previously all three of the leads do a solid job at what little they are given to work with. A lot of the humour comes courtesy of Scott’s inexperienced Elena who is thrust into the unfamiliar situation whilst Stewart occasionally has a funny moment as the hyperactive Sabine. One of the big problems that the film has with its leads characters is that it keeps hinting at interesting backstories, but never revealing what they actually are. Throughout the film we are told about the past of former MI6 agent Jane who went against her superiors and somehow resulted in an asset in Instanbul losing the thing most important to her. This ultimately feels like we are only seeing half the story, although something tells me they may have been counting on a sequel to tell the rest of this story.
Filling out the rest of the main cast is Elizabeth Banks as a gender swapped version of Bosley. Oh, by the way, Bosley is a rank in the organisation now and not just Charlie’s assistant. Bosley acts as the Angels support although one gets the impression that Banks wanted to get in on as much of the action herself based on how much time she spends in front of the camera in addition to her work behind it. It’s just a shame that Banks can’t seem to shake off her Rom Com persona enough that she can be taken seriously as an experienced spy.
Oh this is may be where we enter spoiler territory, so if you’re really interested in not knowing what happens in the film, I suggest you stop reading now. Okay, statistically there must be at least one of you out there!
Okay, on the subject of Bosleys, Patrick Stewart appears as the original John Bosley, who has had a bit of a change of appearance since his time as Bill Murray in the early noughties (Yeah, it’s the same guy as evidenced by some bad photoshops of the Star Trek actor with Cameron Diaz) however this time around, Bosley has taken on the villain role. Having spent years becoming jaded as his time as nothing more than an assistant to a speaker, the character has decided to start his own organisation, albeit of a more criminal nature. Since we never see any of this prior to the reveal, it’s certainly a case of this plot seeming relatively arbitrary with no reason why this role couldn’t have been filled by another random villain.
Other male characters come and go, with none really leaving a lasting impression on the film. Djimon Hounsou appears early on in the film and whilst he felt as though he could have done more, he disappears from the plot just as quickly. Sam Claflin also makes a smattering amount of appearances throughout the film as an unscrupulous CEO but again he never makes much of an impact on the film. There’s also a love interest for Jane – who I completely forgot about until he fell out of a closet later on in the film. So what I guess I’m saying is that this film is most definitely all about the ladies!
Perhaps in keeping with it’s TV origins, the films plot feels as though it is one taken from a 45 minute episode stretched out over the films two hour runtime. The worst part is that it doesn’t even feel like one of the important episodes, just one of the filler episodes with no real stakes – since you know it’s all going to be neatly squared away by the end. The plot itself is fairly run of the mill, dealing with a dangerous piece of technology that in the wrong hands could be used for nefarious purposes. The main problem is that we never see just how dangerous this weapon can be – with the only exception being the death of a security guard merely doing his job, albeit in a slightly creepy way, and whose death is never even given much of an afterthought by the main characters. This is a moment that should have weighed on the character of Elena rather than being treated as a joke and not mentioned again.
The action itself is also severely lacking in the film with the few actual fight scenes being lacking in both originality and style which is one thing that the McG films had. Again a lot of the choreography feels as though it would be better suited to the small screen and even the film’s climax seems relatively low key in comparison to it’s predecessors. There is a fight scene near the middle of the film featuring the inexperienced Elena and a much larger henchman that is fairly hard to swallow, but even with that the action scenes feel dull and uninspired.
On the whole, Charlie’s Angels is not necessarily a bad movie, it’s just one that fails to add anything new to the franchise whilst also lacking the camp charm that made previous iterations more enjoyable. There are certainly plenty of better female led spy films out there to watch.