With all these reboots and remakes one is more than likely to get lost in the fog, acceptance wise, when taking into effect Hollywood’s recent mantra: “Everything that was old is new again.” For me, I just take it one film at a time, and try not to mix these retooled franchises with my like or dislike of other ones. Some work, and some don’t. That simple. Unfortunately nowadays, if something doesn’t work for and individual, that reviewer has to then walk on eggshells while summarizing their thoughts through the spoken or written word. That is because so much hatred for films these days leads to people accepting or writing off these opinions with varying degrees of negative excuses such as: toxic masculinity, studio interference, feminism, toxic fandom, dude bro hatin’, etc. When really, 99% of one’s like or dislike of a film has nothing to do with any of that. It is simply that the film didn’t work on an entertaining level and/or didn’t work for them on a technical level. CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) worked for me minimally on an entertaining level, yet didn’t work for me at all on a technical one. While watchable, and good camaraderie between the 3 leads, there were so many things that didn’t work story, script, editing, direction, that it is too hard for me to even give this a slight recommendation.
CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) is definitely a women-centric film. Directed by a woman, produced by women, scripted by women, starring women. Know that even though I didn’t like this film that much, I have absolutely no problem at all with it being women-centric. There are plenty of fantastic films out there that are mostly women-centric, such as Widows, Wonder Woman, Booksmart, etc, etc, etc. And while I may dislike this movie and maybe just a handful of other ones, especially Ghostbusters (2016), my reason for disliking them HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT BEING WOMEN-CENTRIC. The problem with Ghostbusters (2016) is that the story and script had multiple problems such as not making any narrative sense, the story itself left a lot to be desired, And director Paul Feig can’t direct action very well, and had way too much improv going on and needed to learn to say “cut!” Even though the four women leads are very talented in other aspects of their career, not having a well written and fully fleshed out script, served them absolutely no favors in regards to their performance in that movie. The only difference between that film and the reboot sequel of Charlie’s Angels is that the leads were actually able to elevate the bland script and make the finish product watchable with their performance and their chemistry together. When I look back on how dull and bland the story and script were, that had to have been no easy feat.
And while I really enjoy a lot of the projects Elizabeth Banks is in acting wise and her performance in them, I don’t think she’s a very good screenplay writer or director. This is her second big gig directing, and part of the reason why she probably got it was because Pitch Perfect 2 did so well at the box office. Studios always look at those numbers first, turning a blind eye to mixed reviews. And let’s face it, the first Pitch Perfect is the only good one. The 2nd film is essentially a remake of the first, and it is all point and shoot directing. As you know, Charlie’s Angels relies on some action sequences because the story is about female off the grid spies, kicking ass and defeating the bad guys. None of the action sequences in this film stood out, and it is because they weren’t shot or edited well. Everything is shaky cam, and the editing is so bad and at such a frantic pace at the start of every action scene, that it ends up being a dead giveaway that the editor really did have any great static footage to work with. It was either shot weird or it was too slow, the editing serving to hide all the inconsistencies. Elizabeth Banks if you ever read this, which I doubt you will, if that wasn’t the problem, the editor on your film should be fired. I am willing to forgive her writing wise as this was Banks’ first big screenplay. While the concept of this movie being a reboot yet also a sequel (we will get to the spoiler paragraph in a minute) was quite clever and cool, the execution was piss poor drivel. It’s the same story you’ve seen a thousand times before: a device that is supposed to be used to help people can also be weaponized, a person working on it is targeted for death because she knows of the flaws and will ruin the bad guys plan, so she is saved from assassination and brought in to work with the Angel’s to take all involved down. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, you must not have seen a movie in three decades.
**one spoiler paragraph warning** I have to get into a major spoiler to provide some evidence that I really didn’t much care for how the film forced itself into being part of the whole Charlie’s Angels canon, so if you want to avoid any spoilers, just skip this paragraph for more of my non-spoiler likes and dislikes about the film. So this film Ret-cons itself into being a sequel to the whole Charlie’s Angels mythos by changing up one major character, the original Bosley. With this film, everything is in its own universe, the main television series that aired a long, long time ago, and the two McG movies that starred Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore (who is an executive producer on this film). Bosley, portrayed by David Doyle in the original series, and then by Bill Murray in the first McG film, is played by Patrick Stewart here. Then the movie does the unthinkable and the most eye-rolling imaginable. It recons Patrick Stewart’s image in old photos of the original series and the McG films, stating that this is the constant one constant Bosley in this entire universe. Well, here’s the first problem, Patrick Stewart is English, and other than not even closely resembling the likeness of Bill Murray or David Doyle, speaks a British accent in the film. Basically they Cumberbatch/Kahn it. I’m okay with that, but then the ending of this film reveals that Bosley is the true bad guy mastermind, basically what they did with the character of Jim Phelps and the first Mission:Impossible movie. Changing that character like that doesn’t make sense on a narrative level, because if all the other Charlie Angel’s project are now canon, we know that someone with that statue isn’t just going to turn into an evil mastermind asshole. It just seems like a shock and awe you twist that was just thought up of to shock and awe you and tricking you into thinking its clever. Sorry, it’s not. **end spoiler paragraph**
Elizabeth Banks actually makes a great female Bosely in this movie (all the heads of all these Charlie’s Angels organizations around the world are just code named Bosely) but the aspect that makes this film unwatchable to watchable are the three leads: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska. Kristen Stewart has never been better. She acts like she wants to be in this movie, gets some fun and quirky stuff to do and almost steals every scene she is in. Naomi Scott, the one aspect of the remake of Aladdin that I liked, is good here to as the creator of said object that can be weaponized and the “new recuit”. Her freak out scenes of seeing all this action, espionage with not knowing what to do with gizmos and gadgets was hilarious and effective. Ella Balinska, who I am not familiar with at all, gets the bulk of the action fighting sequences, and she definitely picks up some of the slack that the editing and directing left to be desired. Her flirting scene with Netflix chick flick movie hunk Noah Centineo is easily the best sequence in the film. Characterization screenplay issue wise the trio thankfully happen to overcome with their excellent chemistry with one another. Now while Naomi Scott gets a decent if awfully familiar origin story, Kristen Stewart’s characters gets one of those one line of dialogue explanations of not shown events that made her the person she is today, and almost the same thing happens to Ella, although we meet one of her old contacts of her former employer, which I guess maybe possibly helped beefed up her character a little bit.
Here’s how this movie could’ve worked: Elizabeth Banks should’ve gave the directing reigns to a director that knows how to shoot action sequences, such as the likes of Patty Jenkins, Kathryn Bigelow, and other undiscovered female director talent. She should’ve completely thrown out the story by two guys that aren’t really great storytellers and wrote such trash as The Girl In The Park, the Beauty and the Beast remake with Emma Watson, and the failed Snow White sequel The Huntsman that Kristen Stewart wasn’t fucking even in. Banks should’ve then brought in some other, better storytellers like Kathryn Bigelow or Gillian Flynn, and work on the screenplay with them together. Then keep everything else, including the three leads and Banks as a female Bosely. With all those ingredients, we could’ve gotten a spy romp that really could’ve worked and could’ve really been something special. I can’t be the only one thinking this, as I am writing this review it was revealed the movie made less than $10 million at the box office this past opening weekend and even Elizabeth Banks has recognized it as a major box office bomb. These studios need to actually look at these ideas & screenplays to these re-tooled, remade, or rebooted franchises before just fucking green lighting the project. They just look at the saying, “Everything that was old is new again,” they shrug, and they think it will be a major hit because of all the other similar reboot successes. They are just all incompetent Charlie’s, all voice only, never to be seen, never to read the file, issuing commands without any rhyme or reason. That is how you get fallen angels my dear readers.