After every few years, comes a film that is based on a famous yesteryear TV show; some do well, some fade away but the ratio of failure is more common in such flicks. The currently popular Star Trek and Mission Impossible are examples of TV shows done right in Hollywood, but such shows are quite a few in numbers. Elizabeth Banks’ Charlie’s Angels tries to find a place in the same category but fails, despite having everything in its favor. It came out at a time when Women Empowerment movement is in full swing, when cinemas were not playing a Marvel flick (a big plus!) and when the audience had all the time in the world in Pakistan (with no Indian film in sight!), yet it failed at the box office. It might have not done well because instead of going a step further and target the new audience, the makers didn’t deviate from the tried and tested format and catered to the older audience.
The Townsend Agency has a new mission, a new boss and a new ‘Angel’. After the retirement of John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), Rebekah (Elizabeth Banks) takes over and her first mission is to neutralize a dangerous sustainable energy project before it falls into the wrong hands. With the help of two Angels — Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska) — she must work out a plan, and save their client Elena (Naomi Scott) in the process. Whether they are able to achieve the desired results or not, watch the film that is playing in theatres.
The three ‘Angels’ look the part and seem to have been selected after a rigorous process. In the last reincarnation of the ‘Angels’ in 2003, the actresses (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu) were selected for their physical beauty but here it seems that Kristen Stewart’s Sabina is selected for her limitless energy, Ella Balinska’s no-nonsense Jane for her ‘muscles’ and Naomi Scott’s Elena for her techno power. The film has been shot in Europe where most of the action takes place and keeps you engaged despite being more like the original series than the films. There are enough twists and turns to make your day with the most important one featuring one of our favorite actors. Elizabeth Banks’ script and direction reinvents the ‘Angels’ and brings them up-to-date, be it the technology, the costumes, and the fight sequences. The best part is that the film is a continuation of the film franchise, instead of a reboot which would have been a disappointment.
The opening sequence highlights the change in times but everything else including the action sequences look more like a tribute to the original series than a way forward. The plot is childish where one invention can destroy the whole world; the way the ‘Angels’ work reminds you of TV shows from the 1990s instead of films in 2019 while the unfamiliarity of the cast doesn’t help either. Elizabeth Banks and Kristen Stewart were popular in the early parts of the decade that is ending while Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott aren’t that popular, even in their native England. Yes, Scott was part of Aladdin but the film belonged to Will Smith, not the leading lady or the leading man. Had she got more experience, Ella Balinska would have been favorite to play a female Bond but not in the early part of her career. The only recognizable face here is that of Patrick Stewart but then when he walks, it gives a strange feeling considering we relate to his persona on the wheelchair more (in X-Men series) than anything else. Even then, he tries to keep the audience engaged despite his limited presence onscreen.
The Verdict 2.5/5
Although Charlie’s Angels is not a bad film, it could have been much better. It categorically rejects the TV reboot of 2011 and tries to take the series forward in its own way, but an ‘Angels’ reincarnation needs more power than Elizabeth Banks the writer, director, and producer could put into the flick. A better, renowned director like McG would have done wonders just like he did in 2000 and 2003, but it seems Banks wanted to be in command without realizing that a change at the top would have helped the franchise. She reinvents the characters for a younger female audience which is where she went wrong; McG targeted the male audience with his ‘Angels’ and that attracted the female audience automatically. With Ford vs Ferrari releasing in cinemas the same day with a huge cast, Charlie’s Angels was always going to be racing at the second position. In the era of Mission Impossible and Fast & The Furious, the production team should have upped their game, but they stayed back in the past, and the audience moved ahead. Yes, the sexist approach is nowhere to be seen with the girls kicking butt, but that something that remained missing, should have been there.