Kristen Stewart as Sabina
Naomi Scott as Elina
Ella Balinska as Jane
Although Kristen and Naomi are both known stars now,
my fav is the new one Ella aka Jane she's kicking some serious butt. while the other two shall provide comic relief...
and i hope they don't portray any of the girls as a sl__t like Drew Barrymore in the original. That was the only thing in the film I found a bit distasteful
Charlie's Angels first review from Guardian - mixed review
Charlie's Angels review – ramshackle action reboot goes at half throttle
There’s intermittent fun to be had in this throwaway relaunch of the female secret agent franchise but the party is cut short by incoherent action and a clunky script
Tue 12 Nov 2019 20.00 GMTLast modified on Wed 13 Nov 2019 00.30 GMT
3 / 5 stars3 out of 5 stars.
Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi Scott in Charlie’s Angels – far less wretched a watch than so many other creatively bankrupt IP resurrections of late. Photograph: Sony Pictures
Back in 2000, the glossy relaunch of Charlie’s Angels felt like a genuine pop culture event. The central casting of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, all at the height of their fame, was an impressively inspired get. The accompanying lead single from Destiny’s Child was not only a smash hit but a deserved one. The gaudy aesthetic and post-Matrix bullet time action were laughable but also undeniably of the moment. It was the most 2000 film released in 2000, and at the time it was impossible to avoid – a slick, pre-packaged blockbuster received with as much enthusiasm as it was made. Almost 20 years, one sequel and one failed TV series later, the franchise is back, but all that buzz has been replaced with something else: deafening silence.
The sub-par marketing campaign and sub-sub-par lead track from Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey haven’t landed with much of an impact, while the new trio (one recognisable star and two question marks) don’t bring with them the same curiosity factor as their noughties foremothers. Tracking for an opening of less than $15m, compared with the 2000 iteration’s $40m without inflation, there seems to be a sense of apathy, or even worse, unawareness from audiences for the latest refresh, easily dismissed as an inevitable rather than necessary product. It might sound like faint praise to say Charlie’s Angels 2019 is slightly better than expected, but in another year of ill-conceived reboots, it’s a depressingly low bar.
What’s striking, and refreshing, about the latest version is that it’s written and directed by a woman, an attempted course correct for a franchise that’s typically been associated with a rather leery male gaze. It’s the first screenplay and second film as director for Elizabeth Banks, a predominantly comic actor who’s edged her way deeper into Hollywood by moving further behind the scenes. It also boasts a story credit from the Pulitzer prize-winning playwright David Auburn, proof of which I would dare anyone to recognise, given how scrappy the narrative feels, thrashing around carelessly from country to country, set piece to set piece.
The plot brings together three new angels, two of whom are already embedded within the Townsend agency and one of whom is an unlikely recruit. There’s Sabina (Kristen Stewart), whose quippy nature irks the more serious-minded Jane (British newcomer Ella Balinska), and both are protecting whistleblower Elena (Aladdin’s Naomi Scott), who fears for the dangers attached to a new power source her company is developing. After a meeting goes sour, the three are on the run along with their Bosley (Banks), or in this universe one of many Bosleys (who also include Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou and, er, Michael Strahan, because … sure) and they must work together to find a way to save the world … in style.
It’s an initial relief to find that Banks hasn’t decided to go the way of so many reboots and bring us a grounded, gritty take on featherlight material, and it’s her awareness of the inherent silliness of the franchise that proves to be one of the film’s saving graces. It’s never taken too seriously, and thus is hard to dislike, a disposable film aware of its own disposability. But there’s enough that proves to be entertaining to make one wish it was just that bit better. Key to the film’s formula is a balancing act between action and comedy, as in previous incarnations, and somehow Banks manages to fall short on both. The script is a polish or two away from really flying, with so many one-liners tanking, and the dynamic between the three women never truly sparks in the way one would hope. The action is similarly underwhelming and often incoherently edited, whether it’s a fight scene or a car chase, and when the laughs and stunts are paired, there’s a shortage of fizz, like a glass of champagne that’s been left out too long.
Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott. Photograph: Sony Pictures
The actors are game, though, and while post-Twilight Stewart has often struggled to juggle bigger roles with her mostly exceptional work on the indie outskirts (she made for a dry, disengaged Snow White), she’s more comfortable here, having fun as the comedy support, trying her darnedest to add humour to a script that’s sorely lacking. Her character is allegedly queer, although all we get is a brief look to confirm it, another much-hyped yet rather damp attempt to provide multiplex visibility for the LGBT community. Newcomer Balinska and Scott are solid enough, bringing energy to less fleshed-out characters, while Stewart has some fun chewing scenery around them.
There are mixed attempts from Banks to try to modernise the gender politics. While a sharper awareness of how men underestimate the skills and physical competency of women is nicely heightened and the trio are made to be sexy without being turned into sex objects, there are other flourishes that don’t work as well. After the cold open, Banks inserts a clumsy, cheap-looking montage of random girls and young women before the film’s title, which feels more like a deodorant ad than the start of a mainstream movie, while the sisterhood and intense bond between the three angels feels baseless and lacking in texture. It makes the decision to almost entirely eradicate love interests in place of female friendship better conceptually than on screen.
It’s forgettable on reflection, but pacey in the moment, proving to be far less wretched a watch than so many other creatively bankrupt IP resurrections of late. It’s better than it could have been while also not being quite good enough to warrant any further instalments.
Charlie’s Angels is released in the US on 15 November and in the UK on 29 November
Review: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Trades High Camp For Hard Action
Scott MendelsonSenior Contributor
Hollywood & EntertainmentI cover the film industry.
Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels
PHOTO BY CHIABELLA JAMES, COURTESY OF SONY
Starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks' 'Charlie's Angels' trades over-the-top camp and spectacle for comparatively grounded action and low-key comedy.
Elizabeth Banks’ new version of Charlie’s Angels is just that, a new variation on a reliable formula. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, nor does it retroactively apologize for the sins of its various TV and movie incarnations, instead just using the core premise to craft a refreshingly grounded and unexpectedly cynical little actioner that happens to feature three colorful female protagonists. The movie takes its time to find itself, but once it gets the exposition and set-up out of the way, it settles into its comfort zone as a pulpy action comedy that doesn’t neglect either component. If you want to see a new Charlie’s Angels movie, one smaller in scale but less aggressively campy than McG’s gloriously gonzo movies, that’s what you get.
The Sony/Columbia release takes the X-Men route of telling its story through the eyes of a newbie who eventually gets inducted into the world. After an overly patronizing “woke women versus sexist dudes” prologue, followed by a sequence that notes Patrick Stewart’s character as the same Bosley who Bill Murray played in the Drew Barrymore/Cameron Diaz/Lucy Liu pictures, we get to business. Agents Sabina (Kristen Stewart, having a blast playing a cartoonish version of her post-Twilight media persona, and yes it’s implied that Sabina is gay or bi) and Jane (Ella Balinska as a former M:I6 agent with a deadpan wit) must contact a whistle blower Elena (Naomi Scott, good fun as an exasperated yet intrigued civilian thrust into constant peril). The meet-up goes badly, which places the tech onto the black market.
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The plot, involving an energy source that has potentially fatal flaws, is more complicated than it needs to be, especially as Elena tries to alert her superiors to potential collateral damage. Once our three heroes are together in danger, the film finds its groove. Stewart, Balinksa and Scott are having lots of fun together, and at least some of that fun is contagious. The film is noticeably less male gaze-y than the last two movies, as (for example) their disguises are more about blending in than standing out. Everyone still looks great and occasionally breaks into dance numbers, but it’s for their benefit, not ours. It also mostly holds back on “sisterhood is important” or “women can do anything” monologues. It’s taken as a given.
Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska in Charlie's Angels
PHOTO BY NADJA KLIER, COURTESY OF SONY
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This is a cheaper film (around $48 million) compared to the last two over/under $110 million entries, back when folks went to the movies just to see a movie and would be expected to see a film in theaters and then buy the DVD. The components that count are still in supply. It was shot on video, and you can tell, but the action sequences and production values never feel cheap. You still get car chases, gunfights, fisticuffs, explosions and ritzy locales. What you lose in splashy stylistic choices and over-the-top spectacle you gain in more realistic action. The movie isn’t awash in bloodshed, your kids can totally handle it, but the fighting feels painful (for heroes and villains) and bodies do drop when the story requires it.
I wish, no spoilers, the villains had been more colorful, as that’s a big reason why the first Charlie’s Angels still works. There’s nothing here to compare with Crispin Glover as a crazed mute ninja or Sam Rockwell going full rock-n-roll, and some spice in that department would have counted for a lot. There are some odd choices here and there, including a bit of collateral damage played for laughs and a third act sequence that’s going to arouse and offend in equal measure, but that just goes to allowing the film to have a distinct personality beyond just being a blandly vanilla IP exploitation. It’s less conventionally “problematic” than the previous films, but it’s still a PG-13 movie that’s not afraid to get a little naughty.
The film is at its best when the three heroes just get to chatter with each other. There is an earned chemistry between the trio, and there is not a little droll dialogue amid the spectacle and even during the film’s spy game sequences and adventure set pieces. You won’t be rolling in the isles, but the low-key comedy (Noah Centineo shows up to entice the Netflix romcom demographics) has its charm. Putting aside whether the world wants another Charlie’s Angels movie, this one is good enough and different enough from its predecessors to justify its existence. Do you want a pretty entertaining mid-budget action movie featuring three female action heroes that’s also co-written and directed by a female filmmaker? Well, IP interest or not, that’s Charlie’s Angels.
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