Charlie’s Angels (2019)

Posted in Reviews by - April 11, 2020
Charlie’s Angels (2019)

Elizabeth Banks’ self-conscious reboot of the Charlie’s Angels TV show may be right-on in its gender politics, but in the midst of its own worthiness, Banks seemingly forgets to have fun, too. The McG films were problematic, yes, but they were also batshit crazy, and all the better for it. Having pop stars like Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj on the constantly rotating soundtrack may be a ploy to make the film relevant to millennials, but surely no-one under 25 cares about Charlie’s Angels; the film’s rampant consumerism (of cars, clothes, watches, tech and travel) only highlights its existence as a completely commercial exercise, with little space allocated to the spunky camaraderie and cheek of some of Banks’ better work in the Pitch Perfect films. This version pits a new gang of Angels against a tech company with software that can be weaponised and sold on the black market. Kristen Stewart is an edgy loose cannon playing by her own rules; Ella Balinska is a former MI6 by-the-books stiff with lethal fighting chops; and Naomi Scott plays a contrasting role as a data programmer who is both the klutz and the brains of the operation. Banks is the matriarchal Bosley – one of many Bosleys – keeping everyone in check and dropping in occasionally to provide exposition and help in moving the story along. Crucially, the film comes unhinged during the action sequences, which have been edited so severely to earn a PG-13 rating that it lacks any real impact. Where the film does well is in its revisionist approach to the subject matter, even if at times it may be handled quite clunkily, at least clear attempts are made to address pertinent, pressing issues, from sexual harassment in the workplace to gender inequality around the world. In one sequence, the Angels are shown delivering aide to a women’s refuge in Istanbul. You can’t knock the film’s morals, but in a crowded market of Hollywood action comedies, there are far more entertaining offers available.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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