Published on November 13th, 2019 | by Michael Newman0
As a fan of the TV show growing up, and less so the modern-day reboots, I had serious reservations when I was given the opportunity to review the new Charlie’s Angels movie directed by Elizabeth Banks. There had been very little spent on advertising (or was simply not advertising in the places I typically frequent), even a friend of mine who tends to keep up with new movie releases wasn’t aware that it was being made (let alone released) when I talked to him last week. To say that this came out of nowhere to a bunch of people I know, is a bit of an understatement. Even the critic reviews didn’t start popping up until my showing was about to start, so the combination of the above set very low expectations of what I was about to watch…well color me surprised.
A new era of Angels (Kristen Stewart / Ella Balinska) are called in to investigate a corporate whistle-blower’s (Naomi Scott) concern about a new energy source that can easily be weaponized. With its ability to induce strokes in people who are within range, it’s not surprising that a shadowy broker has taken an interest and wishes to obtain the device for their own nefarious purposes. With the assistance of many “Bosley’s” (Elizabeth Banks/Patrick Stewart) they must overcome a persistent hitman, travel across the globe to track down the device and procure it before it can be sold to the highest bidder.
Charlie’s Angels thankfully does away with the “spoof” concept and takes on a more serious (yet still highly comedic) role. Instead of ignoring the events from the TV series and the movies before it, it brilliantly weaves them all together into the same universe. This isn’t a series reboot by any means, but an evolution of those that came before it. The action is non-stop, while not on the same level as the more recent Mission Impossible movies, there is still plenty of Krav Maga, gadgets and gunplay that would make even James Bond jealous. The humor is a mix of Easter Eggs, One-liners, and witty comebacks that kept many in the theater laughing out loud.
The surprises kept coming throughout the movie, with an absolutely hilarious performance from Kristen Stewart. I’ve found many of her character roles in the past to be stiff and cookie cutter, but she seems to have found her stride in Charlie’s Angels. Maybe she has been missing her calling in life as a comedic actress, she delivers her performance of a “poor little rich girl” who got caught up in drugs and bad boys early in life, only to be recruited and saved by Charlie. Ella Balinska is a name-taking bad ass, quick with a gun and prone to keeping her emotions in check. To see her finally let lose with what can only be called an adorable flirtatious scene with a “cute nerd” was a true testament to the range of acting she possesses.
Elizabeth Banks portrays an incredibly strong woman who is adept at both fighting and leading. As a “Bosley”, which she clarifies as a rank in their organization similar to a lieutenant, the team relies on her to ensure operations go smoothly. That’s not to take away from the performance of the always incredible Patrick Stewart, another “Bosley” and one of the originals who is set to retire.
There is yet one person, who is able to show up all of the above, even though his character is relegated to just a few scenes, Luis Gerardo Mendez as Saint. Saint is the Angels emotional, physical and spiritual leader, able to provide services as a masseuse, a medic, and a therapist all in one. He never breaks character through the scenes he’s in and is as hilarious as he is outrageous.
The story obviously isn’t anything new, scientist creates device, evil villain steals device, and a group of superwomen are sent to recover it. It sticks to a fairly straight forward plot, and outside of a few unexpected turns, doesn’t revolutionize the genre in anyway. That being said however, it’s a film that is meant to be a fun time, it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It doesn’t want you to take it seriously, and even in the serious moments there is a quick-witted line to break it up.
Charlie’s Angels plays homage to all that came before it. It doesn’t ask you to ignore the previous block buster movies, or the cheesy (yet satisfying) television series that it was born form. In fact, it wants you to remember all of those, and let you know that this is simply a continuation. I expected this movie to be terrible, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
For those who haven’t seen the previous movies or the television series, there will be a lot of Easter eggs that will be missed. That’s not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable on its own, far from it. In fact, it explains more about the Townsend organization (the clandestine group that the Angels belong to) than any of the movies that have come before it. Charlie’s Angels is action, funny and absurd all rolled up in one amazingly well done package. While the timing could have been better for its release, and they certainly should have spent far more money on advertising, this is a movie that is a sleeper hit and shouldn’t be missed.
4 out of 5 stars