Film review: ‘CHARLIE’S ANGELS’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Did the world need another Charlie’s Angels remake? After seeing this clumsy and largely charmless cinematic version, the answer will probably be an emphatic ‘no!’.

This film, directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Patrick Stewart and Banks herself has eschewed the fun, exciting, vividly-coloured, endearingly silly, sugar-rush style of the Angels films from the early 2000’s and replaced it with a flat, grainy, colourless and predictable approach.

This film sees the secret agent angels now part of an expanded Charles Townshend organisation with branches throughout the world and multiple Bosleys. A cliched and mostly uninteresting plot that reads more like second rate Mission Impossible fan fiction, sees corporate criminals steal a new piece of technology called Calisto that will apparently change the world despite looking like a small cardboard box with a light in it. Pursuing the device around the world, angels Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Elena (Naomi Scott) battle the usual incompetent henchmen, a treacherous spy and a creepy, neck-tatted assassin while breaking in new member, former scientist Jane (Ella Balinska).

Banks attempts to interweave action and comedy but fails to do either convincingly. The action is stilted and suffers from an overdose of wobble-cam and frenzied editing. The fight scenes are so jerky they’re almost incomprehensible. There are simply no memorable action set-pieces to compare with those high-energy, music-driven sequences in the earlier films. Also, this movie just isn’t funny. The attempts at droll humour fall flat and there’s nothing resembling a memorable gag. The fact that the film features a few gruesome deaths also kills any sense of comical fun.

Kristen Stewart is badly miscast here, her attempts at insouciant swagger seemed forced and are neither funny nor cool. Naomi Scott delivers a slightly more convincing performance while Balinska has at least some quirky energy. None of them, however, are remotely charismatic or likely to become iconic characters to compare with those played by Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, Farah Fawcett, Cheryl Ladd, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Lieu and Cameron Diaz.

The film emerges amid the #Me Too movement and while its female empowerment theme is welcome, the film merely name checks this issue rather than exploring in any depth the sorts of power structures #Me Too has confronted. None of the characters are any more heroic, competent or imposing than those in the earlier films or the TV show.

This is a mediocre film that pales badly in comparison to its exhilarating and justifiably loved predecessor.

Nick’s rating: **

Genre: Action/ drama/ spy.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Elizabeth Banks.

Release date: 14th Nov 2019.

Running time: 118 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

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