CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) – THE “WOKE” FILM NO ONE ASKED FOR

It’s terribly disappointing to see that CHARLIE’S ANGELS has bombed at the box office and quite sad to see how Elizabeth Banks has responded to its failure. Claiming its failure is because of sexism in Hollywood – to see her comments check out THIS article.. I suggest some recommended viewing for Banks; the ALIEN franchise, original TERMINATOR movies, the first CHARLIE’S ANGELS movie, KILL BILL, LA FEMME NIKITA, even STAR TREK VOYAGER (TV SERIES) – the difference is not sexism, or the fact that any of these are directed to a male audience, it is because they are good and sadly this is not.

To make our point I first sent Elie to view the film, he loathed it, I then asked Kernel Claire to review it and she disliked it slightly less so we get Claire’s review. The most disappointing thing about this is how much I love Elizabeth Banks, I am putting her reactionary comment down to the stage of grief dealing with blame. She must be gutted it didn’t do well.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS is out now from Sony Pictures, it is rated M and runs for 118mins. Enjoy Claire’s review and from everything I have seen and read, see this to kick off a crush on Kristen Stewart.

Charlie's Angels Kristen Stewart image
Kristen Stewart

BY CLAIRE SMITH

CHARLIE’S ANGELS SYNOPSIS: OK GOOGLE, LET’S TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

Standing at the precipice of a new integrated software release that will revolutionise human-to-computer interaction, a product developer flags the potential safety hazards of releasing tech that can interfere with human minds. It’s like Siri/Alexa/OK Google – if they could cause targeted epileptic death seizures. When The Angels hear of the rising global threat from its release, they must work together with some rookie recruits in order to save the world from a Skynet-esque global takeover.

Charlie's Angels Ella Balinska and Patrick Stewart image
Ella Balinska and Patrick Stewart

THE REVISED ANGELS – SAVING MRS BANKS:

Since its television inception in the mid 1970’s, The Angels have been a cult icon for spinoffs, spoofs and costume party poses. For the majority of us though, the words “Charlie’s” and “Angels” evokes memories of the year 2000 comedic crime thriller starring LUCY LIU (KILL BILL, CHICAGO) DREW BARRYMORE (NEVER BEEN KISSED, E.T.) and CAMERON DIAZ (THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, VANILLA SKY).

It felt like the series was put to bed after the 2003 sequel FULL THROTTLE failed to receive widespread positive reviews or reach cult status, but in 2015 Sony announced they were in talks to repurpose the franchise.

The first major change to the world of The Angels is the premise that “Bosley” is a position, not a name. Think of it like “lieutenant” or “captain.” So in this film, there are several Bosleys in play. PATRICK STEWART (LOGAN, STAR TREK FRANCHISE) is John Bosley – Bosley number 001 – about to enter retirement. We also have DJIMON HOUNSOU (BLOOD DIAMOND, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) as Edgar Bosley – the Bosley for another branch of The Angels’ work. Most importantly however is ELIZABETH BANKS (THE HUNGER GAMES, LOVE AND MERCY) as the main Bosley for the majority of this flick.

Charlie's Angels Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Banks image
Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Banks

GIRL POWER:

This is one of those rare films that is written by, directed by and starring women. It’s admirable that we’re seeing more of these films lately – but CHARLIE’S ANGELS unfortunately proves how the holy female trinity doesn’t guarantee a fantastic film. BANKS has cinematic moxie. After helming PITCH PERFECT 2 in 2017, she set her sights on The Angels franchise. With over 90 acting credits listed on IMDB, BANKS was a clear choice for the leader of the pack. Tough but fair, focused (and focused on where the nearest alcoholic drink is available) BANKS works hard as the Bosley tasked with wrangling the rowdy Angels.

Charlie's Angels Noah Centineo and Ella Balinska image
Noah Centineo and Ella Balinska

HEY SIRI – WHO ARE THE NEW ANGELS?

Anyone who failed to heed my warning about the live action ALADDIN film may recognise NAOMI SCOTT as Elena. She played Jasmine in the live action ALADDIN release. Elena’s the rookie recruit to the team. Part software developer, mostly hacker, somewhat adorable geek flirt, SCOTT finds her stride amongst the action of the feature and serves as the “everyman” errrr “everywoman” of the setting.

ELLA BALINSKA (HUNTED, MIDSOMER MURDERS) plays Jane Kano, seasoned Angel, comms expert and unofficial leader of the trio. Word on the street is that she did a lot of her own stunts for this one – her badassery knows no bounds.

Stealing the show is KRISTEN STEWART (THE TWILIGHT SERIES, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, PERSONAL SHOPPER) as the quirky, ADHD affected goofball in charge of security and combat. Notably coy in the celebrity spotlight, STEWART has affected a bad rap from fans who find her sideward sneers off putting. CHARLIE’S ANGELS might show her in a new light –  she’s offbeat, comedic and endearing as black sheep Sabina. Brace for the upcoming lady crushes as fans fawn over STEWART in this new light.

Charlie's Angels Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott image
Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott

ALEXA – TELL ME WHAT WENT WRONG?

There was nothing wrong with any of the leads’ performances – even KStew’s delivery was palatable to a Twilight-tired cinemagoer like myself. The action sequences were punchy and intense – they’d sit comfortably alongside a JASON BOURNE franchise.

Where CHARLIE’S ANGELS fell down is in the apparent attempt to create dude-cinema starring females. It resulted in a script that plays it far too safe – plot points become predictable and arguments around women’s rights are ham-fisted into interactions and beat points.

The McGuffin of the film becomes nothing more than a dull threat. Instead of using The Angels to stop a global business association, why not use them to overthrow an illegal sex-trade ring? Or to crush a multi-national child labour sweatshop association. Or for anything that we can get behind – something more moralistic and relevant than a rogue software update. 

It’s a dull threat that we’d brush aside as a boomer story at a family BBQ.

IN CONCLUSION:

Overall, CHARLIE’S ANGELS fails to excite. Although the ensemble gives it their all, and it’s great to see a female helmed feature, it pulls punches and results in an overly elaborate snoozefest that part panders to the male action genre and part toys with women’s rights. Save it for the DVD release and open a bottle of wine while you watch. You’ll need it.

KERNEL CLAIRE’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL ELIE’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Kernel Claire retired from the Salty Popcorn cob in 2014 with full honors, but was lured back to the shine of the silver screen and the Salt of the Popcorn a mere four years later. When not hand-modelling for Kernel Jason’s food-reviews, Claire can be found scootering through Sydney at a reasonable, defensive driving speed; or fussing far too much over her little black rescue cat Baxter.

Claire has worked in the Australian Cinema Industry for over 13yrs and loves it the most when she can report “sometimes I get paid to watch movies”. She’ll pretty much attend any event that includes a lanyard.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.