Arts, Features

Review: “Charlie’s Angels” packs less punch than its predecessors

For decades, Charlie’s Angels has been the epitome of fierce, crime-fighting females — a trio so engaging that the original 1976 television series has inspired countless reboots. But despite the strength of its predecessor, the 2019 reboot of “Charlie’s Angels” leaves much to be desired. 

This iteration of “Charlie’s Angels” follows Elena Houghlin, played by Naomi Scott, the head scientist and developer of the high-tech energy conservation device called Calisto. Houghlin finds herself suppressed in attempts to voice her concerns about its life-threatening dangers. 

Actress Kristen Stewart, shown at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, will star in action film “Charlie’s Angels,” the fourth installment of the movie franchise. COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Angels Sabina Wilson, played by Kristen Stewart, and Jane Kano, played by Ella Balinska, are brought in to recover the device when it is stolen in order to prevent it from being used as a highly dangerous war weapon.

Massachusetts native Elizabeth Banks, producer of this rendition of “Charlie’s Angels,” is known for starring in and directing renowned films, such as in “Pitch Perfect 2,” a film highlighting female-centric talent and artistry. 

Likewise, in “Charlie’s Angels,” Banks attempted to tell an empowering story that pushed the message of girl power and should be praised for adding a female-forward perspective in an industry that rarely caters to women. 

Scott’s headstrong and rebellious portrayal of Houghlin’s response to poor treatment by her shady boss showcases modern-day issues in the workplace. Viewers can sympathize with Houglin as her worries are belittled and thrown back at her. This angle is a necessary conversation that speaks to millennials.

The message of female empowerment, however, tends to get lost in the movie because it is being delivered by underdeveloped characters. 

All of the characters lack personality and overall substance where it matters the most. Sabina and Jane rarely engage with each other and the audience isn’t left with the impression of a substantial friendship. Instead there seems to be a greater focus on character’s individual strengths rather than on their combined power through teamwork. 

The previous Angels trios worked as a team, often covering each other’s blind spots in combat. While the new leads are able to show off each member’s respective strengths, the decision to move away from being a package deal takes away from the film’s vision of sisterhood.

The ongoing theme of girl power at times feels organic, but is forced and overused at others. The montage of girls in Angel-esque scenarios was a half-baked attempt to pull together the idea of community and sisterhood and it sums up the hastily-constructed bond that the girls have created. 

The film’s lackluster attempt to throw love into the mix when previous “Charlie’s Angels” stories have successfully delved into the complexity of the Angels’ love lives only adds insult to injury. 

Langston, played by Noah Centineo, served virtually no purpose except to be a weak and brief love interest the film could have done without.

There are flashes of what made previous Angel trios great, but this cast doesn’t hold a candle to the Angels that came before them.

Fans of the 2000 iteration “Charlie’s Angels” can see similarities between Natalie, an intimidatingly powerful character played by Cameron Diaz, and Stewart’s sexy and smart-mouthed character Wilson. What Stewart and the other two Angels in the 2019 reboot lack, however, is the domineering — yet intensely-feminine — energy the previous Angels trios held. 

The glitz and glamour that comes with being an Angel is nowhere to be found in this year’s movie. An impressive wardrobe of flashy outfits, wigs and expensive jewelry is teased and then very quickly-forgotten as the new Angels don modern, unimpressive outfits, not at all reminiscent of the glittery and bold get-ups of our original heroines.  

While the current premise of “Charlie’s Angels” seems promising, its waning second half takes away from the groundwork established by former “Charlie’s Angels” stories. The production would have fared much better if it had continued on the same path. This reboot lacks much of what made the previous versions reboot-worthy in the first place. 

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