Charlie’s Angels (2019) review: Hugely entertaining
Ivan | On 07, May 2020
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks
“I think women can do anything.” “Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should, right?” “Why not?” Those are the opening words to 2019’s Charlie’s Angels, a reboot that shrugs off criticism and pandering with the same confidence with which Sabina (Kristen Stewart) snares her clueless criminal target. The message is clear: these Angels won’t take any nonsense from anyone.
That sets the tone for what follows: a hugely entertaining, slightly earnest, wonderfully exuberant blockbuster that slinks and skips its way through the familiar franchise. John Bosley (Patrick Stewart) is retiring, paving the way for the new Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) to bring together a trio of Angels on behalf of the ever-elusive Charlie. Our three new leads are united by a whistleblower in a European tech firm who is prepared to expose the company’s new energy-saving device as a potentially lethal source of electric shocks.
Trying to keep the whistleblower, Elena (Naomi Scott), safe while exposing the truth proves a mission worthy of multiple Angels, as their goal attracts attention from a ruthless assassin, along with all the usual low-life types. And so Sabina teams up with Jane (Ella Balinska) to fend off the threats, while also infiltrating lavish parties, breaking up arms deals, sneaking into high-tech HQs and surveilling cafes. All of this, naturally, requires lots of costume changes but also – refreshingly – carries a spiky chemistry, as lone wolves Sabine and Jane take a while to get used to each other.
There’s game support from the game supporting cast, including Sam Claflin as Elena’s childish boss and Noah Centineo as her flustered colleague, but there’s no doubt that our three women are the real stars here. Naomi Scott is great as the focused hotshot Jane, Balinska oozes charisma as the fledgling Angel destined to be recruited by Bosley. Kristen Stewart, though, walks away with the show, managing to be determined, efficient and brutal but also clumsy, aloof and hilarious.
That balance is a difficult one to strike, and director Elizabeth Banks embraces it, giving the film a wonderfully goofy vibe that’s entirely disarming and unexpected. That in itself is an achievement, but Charlie’s Angels also finds the time to squeeze in some exciting set pieces to boot – one shootout involving a warehouse is slickly executed, but carries a quick-witted sense of humour, while the climactic action sequence breezes past.
The result is a lightweight, no-nonsense popcorn-munching affair, but it knows it and acts accordingly, delivering genuine fun for both its stars and anyone sitting in the audience. Challenged with reviving a franchise that everyone’s long since stopped talking about, 2019’s Charlie’s Angels shakes off any concerns without a care in the world. “Why?” someone might ask of bringing the series back to the big screen. Charlie’s Angels has a simple answer: Why not?