Review: Charlie’s Angels (2019)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: When a young systems engineer suspects her company may have a few dangerous ideas with a new invention, she seeks out help from the specilized investigative team known as Charlie's Angels.

REVIEW: “Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy…” That was how it all started. Way back in 1976, this line introduced fans to one of the campiest – and dare I say giddily enjoyable – television series’ from that time. Charlie’s Angels ended it’s run in 1981, yet it left enough of an impression to ultimately be revived as a low rated reboot of the series in 2011, as well as a couple of big screen versions directed by McG and starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray. While the most recent film, CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE, made a bit of money worldwide, it was critically lambasted and it didn’t connect with audiences in general. Of course like most things in Hollywood, you just can’t keep a familiar property from being redone. Yes, Charlie and his Angels are back.

This time, the story revolves around a young systems engineer named Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) who is concerned about the company she works for. She is so worried that she secretly blows the whistle on the flagrant disregard for safety with their latest invention that gives near unlimited power, but one that could cause serious damage. Lucky for her, she meets up with The Townsend Agency, a place that features a bevy of beautiful women who also happen to be kick ass private investigators. Her case is brought to Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) and a team that she has assembled including Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) and Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott). Now, they must go face to face with the men in charge, and attempt to stop the technology from getting in the wrong hands. If you’ve ever had fears about Alexa acting up, then this may be the movie for you!

Charlie's Angels, 2019, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, reboot, action, JoBlo.com

Sigh. Sometimes you really want to go into a movie like this and just have a good time. If you're old enough to remember the series, it’s highly unlikely that you'll remember any of the plotlines. It was all about the silliness of it all, and the chemistry between the series' stars. The story and script this time around tries very hard to pay homage to the original angels. Written by Elizabeth Banks – who also directed – there are a few bright spots. The opening sequence with Kristen Stewart and bad guy Jonny Smith (Chris Pang) had a couple of engaging moments. As well, the occasional pun or pop culture reference – BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ to be specific – was especially clever. Yet much like the recent C.H.I.P.S. big screen adaptation, this fails to fully convince as a fully balanced comedic action flick. It’s rarely that funny, and the random fight sequences barely rise above the silly boat scene in PITCH PERFECT 3 – another franchise that Elizabeth Banks was heavily involved in.

The best thing about the new film is the casting of the angels themselves. Ella Balinska, who joins the angels much like they did in the original series – adds a charming on-screen presence to the trio. The same can be said for Naomi Scott who also manages to bring a tiny bit of bite to the violence at hand. Yet it is Kristen Stewart who really gets to have a whole lot of fun as Sabina. The actress commits to the sheer ridiculousness of the role and the screenplay. In fact, the few truly inspired laughs come from her wild on-screen persona. If only these three had better villains to contend with. In fact, if this film manages to keep the franchise going, perhaps they could avoid all the boring set-up next time around and simply let these three loose.

Charlie's Angels, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, 2019, action, comedy, reboot, JoBlo.com

And speaking of actors, there happens to be a few familiar faces when it comes to the fellas. Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Nat Faxon, Noah Centineo, Sam Claflin and Jonathan Tucker round out the cast. It’s fun to see Stewart step inside this glitzy and ditzy world, and the same can be said for Hounsou. However, these fine gentlemen don’t have a whole lot to work with. As a fan of Tucker, I was looking forward to seeing him play a devious and wicked killer. However, as a silent villain – he has no lines, only a couple of grunts – it’s far more repetative than intense. While this feature isn’t necessarily going for chills, it would’ve been nice to raise the stakes a bit to give the more action heavy sequences a little energy. Instead, the two hour flick drags along until its predictable end trying hard to offer a laugh every so often.

The latest attempt to revive CHARLIE’S ANGELS may please a few fans. And the way they tie it in to not only the original series, but the McG flicks as well is actually quite creative. Unfortunately the final project would have been much more digestible had it been a pilot episode for a CW series. This is a lightweight and dull attempt to keep this franchise on the big screen, one that drags along for two hours without any real stakes or excitement. Even still, the combination of Stewart, Scott and Balinska is engaging, and Banks manages to bring a bit of a spark to her take on the Bosley character. This is the kind of movie that may resonate to young girls in need of a little girl power – the kind that Spice Girls made famous with “Wannabe" – and that's not necessarily a bad thing. They even have a strangely timed dance number to the Donna Summer classic tune “Bad Girls.” But these girls aren’t bad, it's just a shame that the movie they’re in just isn’t very good.

Charlie's Angels

NOT GOOD

4
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Source: JoBlo.com

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.