A pop feminist, blingy advert for girl power could have been a fun, if fluffy, night at the cinema, but unfortunately the new Charlie’s Angels is let down by a script that neither serves the predictable plot nor its cast’s talents. As a result, much of the danger feels rote and the humour falls flat. Naomi Scott is particularly ill-served; Elena’s overeagerness and awkwardness fall on the wrong side of cringe, leaning right into the socially-inept scientist stereotype. The other characters feel similarly two-dimensional, making many character motivations or actions come across as somewhat incoherent.
That said, there are small nods to the cultural changes and awareness that have occurred since the previous franchise incarnation – though any political statement is muddled at best. The sexist microaggressions the titular angels face in their everyday lives ring true, although they serve no further purpose and – when given the opportunity – fail to build to a theme. The addition of some female microaggressions around diet culture also jars (unsurprisingly, the women are uniformly slim). On the plus side, the camera is far less leery than in the original series, and its female gaze feels clear. However, this feels like an obvious victory in 2019.
Fortunately, the cast seems to be having a great time – notably the ones allowed to go ‘off script’ on missions. Kristen Stewart’s deadpan one-liners and physical confidence sell the good-natured, well-meaning goof with aplomb, and Patrick Stewart’s Shakespearian delivery makes the most of the more over-the-top moments leading up to the dazzling final act.
Charlie’s Angels could have been a justified reboot had it done more with the franchise’s DNA than expect the brand alone to sell tickets. With a dearth of genuine laughs, thrills, or character development, it dims the innate joy of watching smug misogynists get their justified comeuppance.
CAST: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart
DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Banks
WRITER: Elizabeth Banks
SYNOPSIS: The Angels team up with a young scientist who worries her clean energy technology can be weaponised in the wrong hands.