Charlie’s Angels Review : Girls Just Want To Have Fun

In a roundabout you give way those that are already in the circuit before moving on and forging your own path.

While Elizabeth Banks gives the the classic “Charlies Angels” – first a series then a series of films; both of which are cleverly referenced here-  a fresh coat for a new generation, her film also treads familiar tar, never straying too far from the 40-year old brand’s original blueprint. It’s respectful while also independent. 

While not a goofy comedy like the previous films and also not as serious or soapsy as the 1976 TV series,  the actress turned writer-director effectively manages to pull off a film that’s credibly more grounded in reality than the McG-directed “Charlie’s Angels” films of 2000 and 2003, while still providing some cracker laughs.

Giving those jokes most of their charge is a surprisingly wonderful Kristen Stewart, clearly relishing the chance to simply have fun in a film for change. The “Twilight” alum’s delivery and devilishly delightful personality is one of the film’s real highlights. Whenever she’s on screen, the film comes alive.

The screenplay itself – Banks, who scripted, seemingly afraid to drift too far from the source – is a rather predictable and old-hat affair, but the film’s fun tone combined with some truly entertaining performances shadow the script’s lightness.

Of the plot, we’ll you’ve seen it all before. Three female spies – well, two spies, one will be – are teamed to retrieve a device that could (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) destroy the word.

Globetrotting around the world under the guidance of their minder ‘Bosley’ (Banks), the well-equipped trio punch, kick, shoot and out-smart the rogues one step at a time. To the beat of today’s tunes, of course.

Where it’s clear Banks’s directing chops still aren’t quite there is in the action sequences, where she relies too heavily on overdone computer imagery and not enough on full-frame (shoot their whole bodies, not just the faces!) physicality.

The “Pitch Perfect 3” director also struggles to keep a consistent pace here, with the film’s sluggish, ho-hum first half barely resembling the more energised and fun last hour.

And while she’s picked wisely in casting Stewart as the plucky, spunky rebel rouser of the bunch, the other two Angels – newcomers Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska – aren’t nearly as memorable or effective. A couple of more experienced actresses to compliment Stewart’s carefree go-getter and we’d be already hankering for a reunion sequel. More the case, we hope they mix things up for the sequel and team Stewart with some of the agencies’ other players.

Better are the supporting players, particularly Patrick Stewart, Sam Claflin and Chris Pang (Australia’s own! Oi! Oi! Oi!), who surprise in some unexpectedly against-type turns that they’ve clearly had fun doing.

“Charlie’s Angels” was, of all the resurrected brands making a cinematic comeback this year, the most questionable of the bunch – with first looks at the film even producing it’s fair share of naysayers; guilty as charged here – but like Charlie’s most often used form or communication, it’s more often on than not.

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