Charlie's Angels
2.0Overall Score

Charlie’s Angels (USA / 12A / 118 mins)

In short: Fails to ignite

Directed by Elizabeth Banks. Starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Sam Claflin, Djimon Hounsou.

The Plot: The female-fronted Charlie’s Angels organisation is still going strong in the 21st Century. There are new faces this time around. Bosley is now a name given to a certain rank, with one Bosley (Patrick Stewart) retiring to make way for another Bosley (Elizabeth Banks). Angels Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska) come into contact with programmer Elena (Naomi Scott), who works for a tech company developing a new hi-tech energy solution. The snag is that it can also be weaponised, a fact that is being brushed under the carpet by senior management. When the technology falls into the wrong hands, it’s up to the Angels to stop it and save the world from potential disaster…

The Verdict: Last week, multi-hyphenate Elizabeth Banks had a go at men in general for failing to get behind her new, self-described flop version of Charlie’s Angels on Twitter. As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad press though. It got people talking, particularly her comment to the Herald Sun that ‘if this movie doesn’t make money, then it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies’. She does make a semi-valid point there about female-led movies in the current marketplace, but that validation has to be qualified by the end result – and it actually leaves a lot to be desired. Banks wrote, produced, directed and starred in this new take which apparently is a feminist version of the 70s TV show. Not a reboot or a reimagining, but a continuation as made clear in an early scene.

If this is Charlie’s Angels for the Instagram generation, then Banks has made a version that looks as pretty as a socialite’s Instagram account but as hollow as a Kardashian. This version is all dolled up but with nowhere really important to go. Even the plot involving a potentially deadly weapon falls flat and fails to ignite in its own Bondian way. One would like to think that Banks intended it as a film about 21st Century female empowerment, an honourable attempt at making a film with a potentially broad audience of younger viewers and older viewers who grew up on the TV show. There needs to be more female voices and female-led films in the male-dominated film industry. That’s a fact. What’s not to like here? Globe-hopping locations, gadgets, car chases, Patrick Stewart bringing his welcome presence to the story and the usually moody Kristen Stewart being spiky and funny for a change.

Unfortunately there’s plenty to dislike, undoing most of the good work by Banks and her enthusiastic cast in getting the audience onboard. The script is feeble at times, throwing in stale, lifeless jokes like hamburgers not coming from Hamburg and new recruit Elena constantly trying to keep up with her new Angels buddies. Sam Claflin, usually careful in his choices, screams like a girl and is pretty much wasted throughout. The surfeit of Bosleys only adds to the general confusion over the messy plot. The lack of a single main baddie from the beginning also detracts from the world-saving antics. The action scenes are humdrum, when they vitally need a Mission: Impossible-style boost of adrenaline to make them stand out on their own (e.g. Atomic Blonde). Charlie’s Angels 2019 is rather smug, self-absorbed and unnecessary, when it needed to be more fun and anarchic – like the upcoming Birds Of Prey. Female-led action films can work at the box office. The good ones anyway. Mediocre ones like this are soon forgotten. Yawn…

Rating: 2 / 5

Review by Gareth O’Connor