In a world full of superheroes and James Bond‘s, more female role models rise – and it’s about time! The ‘Charlie’s Angels‘-brand has stood the test of time and with every generation, a trio of badass, independent women get chosen to become the face of the Townsend Agency.
When Elena (Naomi Scott), a young systems engineer, blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all. After the OG Bosley (Patrick Stewart) retires and another Paris-based Bosley gets killed on the job in Hamburg, first Angel ever to get promoted to Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), becomes caretaker of our duo of Angels, Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska). We get to join in on the action, city-hopping from Berlin to London, Istanbul and the ‘Night of the Stars’ Gala in Chamonix. These lady spies are on a mission, and they won’t stop until they’ve pleased Charlie.
Director, writer and producer Elizabeth Banks is known for starring in a lot of comedies. She more recently also directed Pitch Perfect 2. Her direction is decent, but Charlie’s Angels could’ve benefited from a tighter editing-job. There’s too much jumping around between cities in the first half and everything looks as if it’s filmed in the same city. The films action sequences – and there’s a lot of them – are solid and very well choreographed. As a fan of the previous Charlie’s Angels films (starring legends Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore), I would’ve liked it to be a bit more camp, though Banks doesn’t entirely shy away from it, and also knows how to be funny.
Together with Evan Spiliotopoulos (live action ‘Beauty and the Beast‘) and David Auburn (The Lake House), they know how to keep a powerful feminist action comedy engaging for two hours, by releasing compelling twists and almost turning the story into a modern whodunnit. A discussion about a classic film getting connected to Birdman and Batman, turns into a serious back-and-forth between our main ladies that made the entire audience at the screening I attended cheer. And a cute interaction between handsome, geeky science boy Langston (Noah Centineo) and Jane will for sure make many girls squeal in their seats.
To solely state that Kristen Stewart (Twilight-franchise) is the true MVP of this new chapter in the franchise, is maybe unfair of me, because Ella Balinksa (The Athena) and Naomi Scott (Aladdin) are each in their own way just as good. Stewart is interestingly enough the funniest of the band, after always being portrayed in the media as uptight and having no emotions, and this could once and for all prove those who thought she couldn’t act, wrong. Stewart has been active in smaller indie films ever since her “Bella-years” and has by now proven herself to be an acting genius. Time for the main audience to acknowledge her talent. Ella Balinska is a genuine surprise as leading lady, always ready to fight. With her more emotional arc, she gets to showcase her talents a bit more than others, and truly is a bright star in the making. We all know Naomi Scott has the range, and most of all, is having fun. These three women have some serious chemistry going on, and it’s contagious. Hell, even Patrick Stewart seems to be having the time of his life as Bosley, with some great one liners to prove it.
As far as the well promoted soundtrack goes, it fits with the film, although it cheapens the final product a bit. Every new scene starts with a new song, as if a jukebox controls the story. Luckily Banks turns the choppy first half, which feels like one long music video, into a genuinely entertaining second half, with lots of great set pieces – such as a big party set in a mansion, which raises the stakes – and an enjoyable, cameo-filled segment during the credits, that will make you want to sign up to this agency immediately.
Review – ‘Charlie’s Angels’
Reviewed at Event Cinemas George Street, Sydney, Nov. 13, 2019. Australian Classification: M. Running time: 118 min.
PRODUCTION: A Sony Pictures Releasing release of a Columbia Pictures, Perfect World Pictures, 2.0 Entertainment, Brownstone Productions, Cantillon Company production. Producers: Elizabeth Banks, Doug Belgrad, Elizabeth Cantillon, Max Handelman. Executive producers: Drew Barrymore, Leonard Goldberg, Matthew Hirsch, Nancy Juvonen.
CREW: Director, screenplay: Elizabeth Banks. Camera (color, widescreen): Bill Pope. Editors: Alan Baumgarten, Mary Jo Markey. Music: Brian Tyler.
WITH: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Jonathan Tucker, Nat Faxon, Chris Pang, Luis Gerardo Méndez.