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"CHARLIE'S ANGELS"
(2019) (Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action-Comedy: A small team of female spies adds a newcomer to their fold as they try to prevent a potentially deadly device from falling into the wrong hands.
PLOT:
Sabina Wilson (KRISTEN STEWART) and Jane Kano (ELLA BALINSKA) are two spy "angels" who work for the Townsend Agency and the nebulous "Charlie." With handlers all known as Bosley -- including Edgar Bosley (DJIMON HOUNSOU), Bosley (ELIZABETH BANKS) and the just-retired John Bosley (PATRICK STEWART) -- they're tasked with stopping criminals from doing bad things. Their latest assignment involves systems engineer Elena Houghlin (NAOMI SCOTT) who's helped developed a new, clean power source for her company CEO, Alexander Brock (SAM CLAFLIN).

She knows it's not ready to market yet, what with having a dangerous flaw. And that is that it can be hacked and turned into an EMP weapon that could be used to kill others, mimicking a stroke or aneurysm and thus being untraceable. But her immediate boss, Peter Fleming (NAT FAXON), dismisses her concerns, and when she tries to bring her informational warning to Edgar, an assassin known as Hodak (JONATHAN TUCKER) tries to kill her.

Sabina and Jane manage to save and rescue her, but from that point on, they don't know who to trust as they try to find the missing device and figure out who wants it and why.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
Okay, I have to be honest here and admit I wasn't really looking forward to yet another new version of "Charlie's Angels." And that has nothing to do with me growing up on the original TV show (and owning related posters, including a very, very famous one) or enjoying the completely reconfigured big-screen adaptation that came along a number of decades after the original show went off the air.

No, it's just that the trailer didn't look that promising and gave off the impression of Hollywood yet once again simply recycling their old material with a slapped-on fresh coat of paint rather than putting out something original or at least different. And the thought of "Do we really need another 'Charlie's Angels' movie?" certainly crossed my mind.

Yet, the same can obviously be said about any given James Bond movie despite those being viewed far more as event films than the over-the-top and highly stylized fluff that director McG turned the Angels into with his two films.

All of that said, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed the film just enough to give it a slight recommendation. A continuation of the past offerings rather than a full-on reboot, the movie has enough of a fun and entertaining devil-may-care, tongue-in-cheek attitude, decent action sequences and an appealing trio of actresses in the leads to make one overlook and forgive -- at least to one degree or another -- the various issues at hand.

It's certainly clear from the get-go that director Elizabeth Banks wants the film to appeal to girls of all varieties as we see a quick-cut menagerie of future angels (and anything else the girls want to be) during the opening credits sequence that feels out of place, story-wise, with the rest of what occurs in this two-hour flick.

That follows the opening sequence that showcases the girl power motif by having our newest angel, Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart, thankfully loosened up from her near-stereotypical, sullen and I smell something bad persona), putting a rich, condescending man -- and his outdated view of women -- in their place.

The story -- penned by Banks -- then moves forward a year where we meet Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott) who's helped develop a new, clean energy source device, albeit one that still has a major bug that needs fixing. Not surprisingly, her immediate boss (Nat Faxon) doesn't take her seriously, partly because he's chauvinistic and, well, he also has ulterior motives with the device that, it turns out, can be weaponized.

Enter the Townsend Agency to help save the day. But its veteran Bosley character (played by Patrick Stewart who takes over from Bill Murray and Bernie Mac in the previous movies) has just retired, and thus another Bosley (Djimon Hounsou) accompanies the newly partnered Sabina and former Mi6 agent Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) to get info from Elena. A hired gun (Jonathan Tucker), however, has other plans, Hounsou's character makes a quick exit, and Banks' Bosley character takes over.

From that point on, and with in-over-her-head Elena in tow, the ladies try to figure out who's stolen the potentially dangerous device, for what purposes, and who they can trust as they begin their investigation. What follows are bouts of decently staged action scenes mixed with some fun, flippant humor that help disguise -- to some extent -- a barely-there plot and an uneven and choppy storytelling style.

The chemistry between the three leads, though, is the element that makes them and thus the film appealing. Granted, and understandably, it's not full-fledged yet as it's developing over the course of the film's running time.

But it does make me look forward to next seeing them all together, something I can't say was the case before the lights dimmed. Despite its issues, this latest incarnation of "Charlie's Angels" is entertaining enough to earn a 5.5 out of 10 rating.




Reviewed November 12, 2019 / Posted November 15, 2019


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