Without really realising it, it feels like the 2000 iteration of Charlie’s Angels became a formative part of my tweenhood. Released when I was 12 years old, it hit the sweet spot for a fun action adventure featuring some seriously cool leading ladies, not to mention the killer soundtrack that I still bump to this very day! Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and of course, the accompanying all time BANGER provided by Destiny’s Child succeeded in cementing Charlie’s Angels into my nostalgic consciousness. Being a big fan of Kristen Stewart, I was actually looking forward to seeing how the 2019 version would measure up.
And on the whole, I’d say it’s completely fine. The Charlie’s Angels of my childhood wasn’t amazing, and neither is this, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a suitable amount of fun watching. This generation’s Angels are Sabina (Kristen Stewart), Jane (Ella Balinska) and Elena (Naomi Scott), headed by the first Angel to become a Bosley (played by writer and director Elizabeth Banks). The bulk of the narrative revolves around an energy conservation device that, if placed into the wrong hands, can become a deadly weapon, and the Angels embark on the kind of jet setting, disguise filled adventure that any fan of the series or previous films will have seen before.
For a silly popcorn movie with a feminist angle, Charlie’s Angels is totally fine, but there’s no doubting it has its flaws. The joke count comes in heavy from minute one, but it’s fair to say that only about one in three really land. The cheesiness and campiness of the film is very much in keeping with the tradition of the franchise, but that doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily happy to let so much cringeworthy flat humour slide. The majority of the action is solid enough, but the film does touch on one of my biggest pet peeves in fight sequences, the magical ‘one hundred bullets and nothing hit’ scenario that immediately lowers the stakes in any shootout. It’s not like I’m expecting any of the heroes to die in a film like this, but a little more attention to detail and avoidance of lazy action tropes would have been nice.
With so many hard hitting and patience demanding cinema hitting screens right now ready to go to war during awards season, Charlie’s Angels provides a nice little palette cleanser. Not great, not bad, just exactly what it promised to be. A bubbly, female lead action romp with some fun gadgets that, whilst not being particularly memorable, gives you a good enough time in the moment.
Much like in my childhood favoured 2000 version, or indeed the original 1970s series, most of the enjoyment of Charlie’s Angels is down to the cast and their chemistry. Whilst the film’s three leading ladies don’t feel like an instant classic combo, they are certainly fun in their own individual ways.
As Sabina, Kristen Stewart is probably as fancy free and bouncy as I’ve ever seen her in a role, and it takes a little getting used to! She’s certainly the stand out performer in the group, kind of in the same way that Kate McKinnon steals the show in Ghostbusters. Stewart gets to wear a plethora of cool outfits, she gets most of the coolest action, and most of the biggest swings at the comedic punchlines. Some land, some don’t, but overall it’s just fun to watch her.
Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska make up the trio, both bringing their own qualities to the roles. Scott is the brainiac who falls into a sprawling spy career, and Balinska is a great executer of action, although the film seems to want to push her as a sort of awkward, geeky nerd, which doesn’t really come across in the way intended in my opinion. As Bosley, Elizabeth Banks is fun, probably my second favourite performance after Stewart. Banks is responsible for the screenplay, the direction and one of the better performances, not a bad day at the office even if some of the script’s humour doesn’t quite stick.
Overall, it’s fair to say that 2019’s Charlie’s Angels isn’t a film that is going to be hailed as some sort of revolutionary franchise rebirth, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun time in the moment. It’s not something that I’m hankering to rewatch, but with the right friends and the right cinema snacks, it’s a completely inoffensive and fast paced campy action flick that ticks a few boxes, just not all of them.