Movie review: Charlie's Angels

November 20, 2019

MOVIES used to be the cheapest and most popular form of entertainment, but not anymore. People now prefer to watch movies even on their cellphones, live streaming, than going to an actual moviehouse where you still have to dress up and brave the dreadful heavy traffic. Most local movies shown lately did dismally at the box office, but even Hollywood flicks are suffering the same fate.

We went to see “Charlie’s Angels”, “Midway”, and “Ford v Ferrari” in almost empty cavernous mall theaters. The public’s taste has really changed because there are now so many other platforms available for watching films and TV series. We didn’t really expect much from the latest reboot of “Charlie’s Angels” thinking it’s just another unnecessary remake.

It started as a successful TV series in the 70s then they made two movies in 2000 and 2003, both directed by McG. In 2011, they revived it as a TV series and it flopped dismally. Now, they come up with another big screen version and it should have taken its cue from the 2011 series as it’s also a flop, which is bad since, honestly, we quite enjoyed it.

The movie is a millennial update written and directed by a woman, Elizabeth Banks, and it celebrates girl power. As an actress, Banks is best known as Effie in “The Hunger Games” series. She started directing in “Pitch Perfect 2” where she also played a TV host. It’s a big hit so we’re not surprised she’s given the chance to direct the new “Charlie’s Angels”. She made a lot of changes in the material but too bad they didn’t sit well with today’s audiences who avoided the theaters where it’s showing.

Banks knows the TV series can be silly so she takes a very playful tone with her own version that has a definitely more feminist vision. This is evident right in the opening sequence where Kristen Stewart as Sabina, a platinum blonde, flirts with an Asian American guy who doesn’t have an inkling that she is actually tying him up. The director being a woman, it shows men can be putty in the hands of skillful women who can do everything and look after each other.

Aside from Sabina, the other angel is Jane (Ella Balinska, a gorgeous and stunning newbie, who’s black) and the last one who’ll join them is Elena (Naomi Scott, Jasmine in “Aladdin”, who’s Asian), a scientist whose new invention is a McGuffin designed to be a gizmo that can provide an alternate power source but can also be weaponized and very dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. Her bosses won’t listen to her so she blows the whistle and seeks the help of the angels who rescue her from an attempt on her life, starting an adventure that takes them to Hamburg, Berlin, London, Istanbul and to France.

The men in the movie are mostly buffoonish idiots (like Sam Claflin as the very wealthy owner of the company who wants to market the device and Nat Faxon as Elena’s immediate boss who has his own designs for the invention and later gets the comeuppance he surely deserves) or truly evil (like Jonathan Tucker as the hard-hearted and tattooed assassin who later gets impaled and another character who has his own selfish schemes but we won’t reveal who he is as it’ll be a big spoiler.) Netflix heartthrob Noah Centineo is also in the cast as an hombre in distress who’s given very little to do.

The badass woman-power vibe in the film is unmistakable but it can be quite a hardsell, just like helping Jane’s aunt in Istanbul who runs a women’s clinic providing birth control devices. Too bad the female-centric message is lost on today’s audiences. For an action flick, it has the usual massive action set pieces that, in all fairness, manage to be quite exciting.