“Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the Police Academy; and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.”
Times have changed since Charlie’s Angels debuted on the airwaves back in 1976, but there’s always been a market for kick-ass action heroines. The original television series earned the nickname, “Jiggle TV,” due to its bouncy and beautiful starlets. The Angels were a team of female crimefighters recruited by the mysterious and never-seen Charlie for his Townsend Agency. The concept was revived by Drew Barrymore and music video director McG for the big screen with Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu joining the fray. Now, it’s time for Elizabeth Banks to take the franchise into the 21st century.
Banks not only writes, directs, and produces the new Charlie’s Angels, she also co-stars as Bosley, at least one of them. Originally Charlie’s loyal assistant, the Bosleys have become the support staff for the Townsend Agency that has now expanded into a worldwide network
Kristen Stewart is Sabina Wilson, a former street punk transformed into the Angels’ sardonic scrapper. She finds herself teamed up with Jane Kano (Ella Balinska), a former MI-6 agent, expert sharpshooter, and master of hand-to-hand combat. Naomi Scott is their latest client, Elena Houghlin, who is targeted after attempting to blow the whistle on her tech company. Elena’s bosses (Nat Faxon, Sam Claflin) are about to roll out a new household device that inadvertently emits a seizure-inducing electromagnetic pulse.
Surprisingly, Banks is only the second woman to direct the female driven series. The other is Angela Robinson, who helmed one episode of the forgotten 2011 reboot. The 2019 theatrical release is neither a remake or a reboot. It’s actually a continuation of the franchise with a few references dotted here and there to previous incarnations. The biggest one is Patrick Stewart as the “original” Bosley with badly photoshopped pictures that retcon him next to other Angels.
Charlie’s Angels has a tough time finding its own unique voice. The Drew Barrymore vehicles weren’t exactly highbrow cinema, but they leaned into the campiness and provided plenty of over-the-top action sequences. This version of Angels plays it straight with a slightly humorous touch. However, the fight scenes and car chases are nothing special. The movie is also missing the wild stunts and inventiveness to match up with the Mission: Impossible flicks or even the recent Birds of Prey.
The spark is also missing from the dialogue as the attempts at banter simply fall flat. That’s a shame because Kristen Stewart is pretty good in the role. Not somebody who jumps out as an action hero. Put aside any Twilight hatred, she can be naturally charming (see Adventureland), but imagine what she could have done here with wittier material. Jonathan Tucker pops in as a silent and menacing assassin. He’s basically Crispin Glover’s Thin Man without any of the weirdness or charisma.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The picture quality is flawless with bright colors and exceptional detail.
The audio is presented in DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue comes in crisp and clear. There’s real depth to the action sequences with the multi-directional sound effects of roaring engines and gunfire.
Stronger Together: The Sisterhood of Angels (7:33) is the standard behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film with snippets from the cast and what it was like to work together.
Elizabeth Banks as BoSSley (5:17) looks at the various hats Banks wore for the production and how she reinvented the characters.
Warriors on Set: Angels in Action (5:55) focuses on the stunt work, training, and fight choreography the main cast underwent for the film.
Tailored on Danger: Styling the Angels (6:17) explores all the cool outfits the Angels donned for action and undercover work.
You’ll also get the music video for the song “Don’t Call Me Angel,” by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Ray, a collection of deleted & extended scenes, a gag reel, and previews for other Sony Pictures releases.
Film Value: 5
Charlie’s Angels is reminiscent of Men in Black International, another bid to revamp a blockbuster franchise. There’s a solid cast working with a paint-by-numbers script with a big reveal that would only be surprising to anyone who has never seen a film before. Charlie’s Angels isn’t good or bad, it’s just bland and forgettable.