As if we haven’t had enough sequels, remakes and reboots already this year, CHARLIE’S ANGELS has just arrived at the cinema. More of a sequel than a reboot as one scene very early on references both the TV show from the 1970s and the two films made in the 2000s, this iteration of the high kicking, crime busting female trio features multiple Bosleys as the Townsend Agency has gone global, resulting in teams of angels in place around the world each one headed up by their very own Bosley.
Sultry angel Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart, JT LEROY; BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALF-TIME WALK; PERSONAL SHOPPER; CAFÉ SOCIETY; STILL ALICE; CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA) has just completed her final assignment under the leadership of John Bosley, aka Bosley 1 (Sir Patrick Stewart, LOGAN, the X-MEN franchise), as the latter is retiring after 40 years of service for Charlie Townsend (voiced by John Forsythe-soundalike Robert Clotworthy). One year later, Rebekah Bosley, aka Bosley 342 (Elizabeth Banks, WALK OF SHAME; the PITCH PERFECT movies), is given an assignment involving Brock Industries, a Hamburg, Germany-based high tech company that has created a Siri-like device that will revolutionise power generation. Although company CEO Alexander Brock (Sam Claflin, ADRIFT; THEIR FINEST; ME BEFORE YOU) wants to launch the product, Elena Houglin (Naomi Scott, ALADDIN), the lead systems engineer on the Calisto project, as it is called, wants to wait as she is concerned that the technology can easily be hacked and weaponised. When six of the devices get stolen, Bosley brings together Sabina and angel Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) to protect Elena from the thieves who are trying to silence her. Together they go undercover and dress up in an array of costumes to kick some serious male butt, retrieve the devices and find out who is behind the plot to use the devices for nefarious purposes.
No one really expects this film to be any good. The question really is how bad is it? It’s pretty bad. I’ll concede that Banks, who pulls triple duty here as the film’s screenwriter and director, competently brings the franchise into the #MeToo era by dispensing with the fluff and soft porn aspects that were the hallmarks of the TV series, and creating strong but still feminine characters who are perfectly at ease swinging one-handed from a zip line while wearing six inch heels. That’s about as good as it gets though. What made the TV show worth watching (aside from Farrah Fawcett) was that the women used their brains and their good looks to get the bad guys each week. It was always fun to watch them go undercover even if all that usually involved was driving a race car, playing tennis or wearing a form-fitting jumpsuit that somehow always managed to conceal a gun. Here, the angels go undercover a couple of times but, especially the second time, their covers are barely introduced before they’re tossed aside. With these angels, it’s a lot of kicking and punching and dodging bullets while looking especially hot with their perfectly coiffed hair and slinky lamé dresses.
Strangely, with a few exceptions by KStew, the story’s best lines all get delivered by the men. Mexican actor and Milo Ventimiglia lookalike, Luis Gerardo Méndez, is the best thing about the film, playing “Saint”, a Q-like character who looks after the angels’ physical, emotional, spiritual, medical, gastronomic and sartorial wellbeing. Anytime he comes on screen, the story gets interesting. As for the women, Balinska is the best of the bunch as she seems well suited for action films. The other women are completely forgettable, as is Claflin, who is the male equivalent of Emilia Clarke. He looks good but can’t act.
CHARLIE’S ANGELS is what it is. I wouldn’t run out to the cinema to watch it. I’m not sure it’s even worth watching on an airplane unless you’re really bored. Good luck, angel.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, November 15th, 8:30 am HK time!
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