I’ve never really had an interest in “Charlie’s Angels.” I never watched the original series from the ‘70s. I haven’t seen either of the two movie adaptations starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore from the early 2000s, and, when I heard that director Elizabeth Banks was going to be taking a new swing at the franchise, I didn’t really care about that either.
When the trailers for this new “Charlie's Angels” movie dropped, my excitement (or lack thereof) changed, but it did not necessarily change for the better. I thought the cast consisting of Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Patrick Stewart and more quality actors was interesting, because recruiting talent is never a bad thing. The actual trailer, however, just made the movie look cheesy and bad. I found myself actively dreading watching it.
Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can confirm that it is exactly what I thought it would be: a cliche and poorly-executed action film that is almost instantly forgettable.
The story of this revamped “Charlie’s Angels” centers on a woman named Elena (Scott), who works for a company that has developed a device to bring clean, renewable energy to the world. Elena, however, knows there is a flaw in the device that could allow it to be turned into a weapon. When weaponized, this device emits a frequency that can assassinate people around the world. After the device is stolen, Elena teams up with secret agents called Angels from the fictional Townsend agency. Together, the trio tracks the weapon down and stops the men who stole it from using it for their own nefarious purposes.
The story in this movie is one of the most formulaic adventures I’ve seen this year. As soon as the groundwork for the film is laid, it’s entirely predictable which direction the movie is headed. The Angels chase the bad guys and there’s a big fight scene when they find them. Then, once it looks like our heroes have won, there’s a twist reveal of a “secret” villain who kickstarts the whole plot again. The Angels then track down that villain and have another big action scene. The Angels win, they celebrate and that’s it: the movie is over.
While watching this movie, I lost track of how many times I was rolling my eyes because of how dumb it was. There are multiple moments in the movie where the story tries to foreshadow events that will come later, but there is no sign of subtlety whatsoever. For example, there’s a moment about halfway through the film where the Angels walk into a warehouse where the bad guys are hanging out. When they walk in, there’s an extended shot that highlights a massive rock grinder sitting suspiciously in the middle of the warehouse. It’s painfully obvious what’s going to happen, as the audience immediately thinks, “Oh hey, somebody is probably going to get thrown into that,” which, sure enough, happens about five minutes later.
This lack of subtlety is a continuous problem throughout the movie, and the actors’ performances only serve to exacerbate the issue.
I’m generally a fan of Naomi Scott. She was great in both the 2017 rendition of “Power Rangers” and this year’s live-action “Aladdin” remake, but she is kind of awful in this movie. In almost every scene she’s in, she’s over-acting, being overly dramatic and is excessively reactionary to everything around her. It seems like every time her character feels any emotion, Scott just takes that emotion and cranks it up to an 11, which makes her character pretty annoying to watch at times.
On the other hand, Balinska didn’t show enough emotion. She just spends the whole movie making snarky comments and jokes about everything, and then acting like she’s too cool for whatever is happening in that moment. She almost always has a deadly serious expression on her face that is void of any emotion or nuance whatsoever, which made it nearly impossible to connect to or care about her character.
Thankfully, Kristen Stewart actually seems to be putting some effort into making her character, Sabina, likable. Though her character is underdeveloped in the script and is given some pretty bad dialogue, Stewart does the best she can with what she’s given. Of the three main characters, Sabina is the only one who I actually enjoyed watching in all of her scenes.
Though Stewart does her best to make it fun, this “Charlie’s Angels” movie never fully captures the interest of its audience. It’s a story that’s been told before, it’s a concept that’s never fully developed and, as a whole, the movie fails to be entertaining. Though I’ve never really cared about this franchise (and thought this movie looked bad), I walked into “Charlie’s Angels” hoping to be at least somewhat entertained. I didn’t have high expectations — I just wanted to have a good time. I walked out disappointed, as the film never delivers anything worth remembering or talking about.
This new version of “Charlie’s Angels” tries to be a cool new take on a franchise that is past its prime, but it’s ultimately just a lazy and predictable action movie that gives the audience no reason to care about its characters or plot.