Charlie's Angels movie review: Elizabeth Banks' reboot is entertaining and has spunk but rarely rises above clichés

Mihir Fadnavis

Nov 15, 2019 11:21:59 IST

2.5/5

Here we go again – another franchise that did not need resurrecting. But this one’s directed by Elizabeth Banks, so it’s got some spunk. It’s hard not to enjoy the energetic gags of Charlie’s Angels, and although it does not rise above the clichés you expect, it’s passably entertaining fare that sticks to its basics and never tries to be smarter than its premise. 

The story isn’t anything to write home about – a tech savvy Elena (Naomi Scott) comes across a device that could lead to the creation of clean energy, but things go wrong when her boss disappears, leading to a potential situation when the device could be misused by bad guys. Two women, who call themselves Angels (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) arrive on the scene and begin slamming guys on walls in an effort to retrieve the device, forming a coalition with Elena who inadvertently becomes a new recruit in their secretive agency. 

 Charlies Angels movie review: Elizabeth Banks reboot is entertaining and has spunk but rarely rises above clichés

A still from Charlie's Angels.

The plot, as you guessed, becomes more of an excuse for the three women to travel across the globe and take down bad guys, as Elena experiences the same things that Will Smith’s character in the original Men in Black did, minus the aliens of course. Banks milks the ‘new recruit’ possibilities with joy, offering both comedy and action in dollops, and even casts herself as the Angels’ boss in a 70’s Farah Fawcett style wig. There are quite a few twists and turns in the narrative that match the quality of an average Abbas Mastan film, but it’s all fun enough to either laugh with or laugh at – it’s never boring for those looking for harmless amusement. 

On the downside – and I never thought I’d ever say this – but this is a step down from the 2000’s McG film in sheer style. Even though that film borrowed its stunts clumsily from the Matrix it had a certain brashness that made it stand out in the summer blockbuster crowd, whereas this one seems like any other action movie trying too hard to wear its feminism on its sleeve. The mismatched trio combination of the women plays out about as one would expect in the film, and elements of ‘silly male’ whimsy and bashing combine with Banks’ unchecked, off-the-wall action that only sporadically works.

Also entrenched in the film is a tongue-in-cheek realm that is oddly inappropriate for two of the three leads who struggle to tackle the gleeful absurdity that their characters find themselves in. You just can’t ignore that the filmmaker has strung together loosely-conjoined scenes rather than a nuanced narrative and is ultimately a collection of broad, both male and female stereotypes.

Of course, while it never congeals into a satisfying whole, the busy silliness just about pulls ahead of flatness in style and character development. To be perfectly honest I had expected worse, particularly after the terrible Oceans 8, but as a life long film fan had hoped for better – which means Charlie’s Angels is at best or worst a mixed bag of a movie. Of course you’re better off watching the amazing Steve McQueen film Widows, but if you like to see women kicking butt in a less realistic and far more glossy scenarios, this film might just be the one for you.

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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 11:21:59 IST