‘I’ ON CULTURE
The third time around for Charlie’s Angels turns out not to be as bad as I thought it might be… well, almost. The first time around, back in the 1970s, the idea of the three women solving crimes while kicking butt was fresh and new. And the 15-year-old movie series was clearly comedy. The new one, however, is “woke.” That means not only do the angels do all the wild things, but they spend a lot of time discussing how women can do anything. And, aside from a couple of weak, smarmy men, all males are shown as evil… and easy to take down.
Elena (Naomi Scott) is a brilliant software engineer who develops a device that can produce clean power seemingly from the air. The problem is that her device can also kill people. Terrified that she might be killed by her company, she turns to the Charles Townsend Agency and meets up with Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) in a Hamburg restaurant. There is a wild attack and Sabina (Kristen Stewart), a “wild child” angel, and Jane (Ella Balinska), a rather straight-laced former British agent angel, come to the rescue in a wild chase through the streets. This Bosley is dead, so another one shows up, played by Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote and directed the film. It seems “Bosley” is actually a rank, and there are dozens of them. (One of them shown on a screen looks exactly like Michael Strahan.)
The angels have to get into the headquarters of the evil company to steal the prototypes, but Elena’s boss (Nat Faxon) has already stolen almost all of them. It was a fun bit, however, one of the few in the film. In the middle of this, another Bosley (Patrick Stewart) gets involved, and the story gets even more complicated as the angels wind up in interesting European cities trying to get those power sources. The views of the cities were nice, but it was clear that just about all the action was not done on location. A quick shot of a skyline always led to looking at a crowded street or large building that could have been anywhere.
However, rest assured that the main three angels (and occasionally the female Bosley) do get a chance to kick the nasty men around. And there are more than a few twists and turns to the story. There are also some really fun cameos right at the end, so if you see the film, watch through the credits.
The cast is reasonably good considering there is not much emoting among all of them. Scott starts off as scared of just about everything, but she certainly changes. Kristen Stewart works hard to be the wise guy, the tough girl from the streets despite being a “Park Avenue princess.” Balinska looks incredibly gorgeous and is more or less a top sniper and world class fighter. The overall problem is that by and large, the three main stars are not all that interesting in themselves. They get a few cute lines and get to fight unrealistic battles.
There are some things to like in the film. Aside from a start that seems to go nowhere very, very slowly, as we get lectured about how women can do anything and everything, it moves fairly well. And, of course, the plot holes are gigantic. Security always seems a joke when they have to get in somewhere. Elena can somehow hack into any program or place, despite its encryption. If someone were able to actually do something like that, they should be working for the spy agency of a major nation. But for her, nothing is impossible.
Does this measure up to the past Charlie’s Angels? Well, it is sort of entertaining. The idea of multiple Bosleys and dozens of angels is an interesting one. The earlier ones made a fetish about how different these women were, how special, and the new film makes them seem part of a crowd. However, if you like the concept, seeing the film may prove pleasant.