Charlie's Angels Movie Review: A soulless reboot with few flourishes
Charlie’s Angels was a fun masala film in Hollywood that has a lot of rewatch value even now; the new version is more a sequel than a reboot, but it isn’t fun at all
I am a huge Marvel fan but more than the MCU, it is films like Charlie’s Angels that make me think that Martin Scorcese is probably right when he is talking about the current spate of films not being cinema. Charlie’s Angels, by Sony Pictures under its Columbia Pictures label, follows the story of Naomi Scott’s Elena Houglin, who goes from a whistleblower to an agent fighting the bad guys. If you, like me, have been following the sequel/reboot cinema cycle, this one follows exactly the same trajectory that Men In Black: International took. And the latter is by, you guessed it, Sony Pictures under its Columbia Pictures label. Two people might have the same idea, but the entire film’s structure, down to the film’s iconic players and twists, being the exact same thing, can’t be a mere coincidence surely.
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska, Naomi Scott, Patrick Stewart, Noah Centineo
Director: Elizabeth Banks
But I guess, as long as a film is really good, regardless of whether it is an inspiration/copy or in this case, a one-size-fits-all glove, it shouldn’t matter. The problem with Charlie’s Angels is that it doesn’t have the wit or charm to carry it through like the 2000’s film. The characters are written almost as if the writer just wanted to go through a checklist. A ‘humourless’ female who develops a crush based on nerd jokes. Check. A sad backstory that is supposed to justify whatever the character does. Check. Money vs morals. Check. Can we at least have some effort put into the creativity box?
This is most telling when an actor like Patrick Stewart just phones it in. Here’s a guy who has made a single character like Professor X stand out in each film (at least six appearances), even though it is made in a template format and the character’s powers have all been showcased in the first film of the franchise. Then there is Elizabeth Banks, who does a Sundar C/KS Ravikumar by both being a director and a prominent actor of the film. That her role is written in the way it is, you would think some bias wouldn’t have seeped into it, but alas.
The film’s two biggest strengths are its leads and the action sequences. Kristen Stewart’s Sabina, and Ella Balinska’s Jane Kano are so wonderfully comfortable in the action set pieces that not once does it come across as being gawky. The latter especially, with her natural height, carries off her role with aplomb. Naomi Scott, who had a breakthrough performance as Jasmine in this year’s Aladdin takes centerstage in this film, and she is the glue that holds the film together by exhibiting a good blend of humour and innocence, as is her character’s wont. Her looks help too.
As with this genre’s importance in set-piece, the opening and climax sequences stand out. A quick shoutout to Jonathan Tucker, who plays a menacing assassin. If ever they want to reboot Robert Patrick’s seminal T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, look no further.
Charlie’s Angels was a fun masala film in Hollywood that has a lot of rewatch value even now. The new version is more a sequel than a reboot, but it isn’t fun at all. Only the Angels save this from cinematic hell.