Busting Crime Is a Serious Game in Updated ‘Charlie’s Angels’
It’s been over 40 years since “Charlie’s Angels,” Aaron Spelling’s crime drama about a trio of attractive female crime fighters, hit the airwaves, and nearly 20 years since the first film starring and co-produced by Drew Barrymore based on the series was released. The franchise showed women who were sexy, badass, smart, and, at least in the films, funny. Now, in our modern era, do we really need another “Charlie’s Angels?” Maybe not, but we live in an age of reboots, and writer/director/co-star Elizabeth Banks and Sony decided to release their female-driven crime thriller under that banner. With Kristen Stewart in the lead, the Angels are as serious as ever. While there are plenty of laughs, the kitschiness that were such a big part of the previous films are gone. These Angels are grown women, although there’s still plenty of opportunities for them to take out the baddies in gorgeous designer dresses and full make-up.
Stewart stars as Sabina, a rich girl who has spent most of her youth living dangerously. When we first meet her, she’s already a full-fledged Angel working closely with fellow Angel Jane (Ella Balinska), a former British intelligence agent. It takes seven seconds longer for a man to perceive a woman as a threat, she tells her Tinder date, Aussie criminal Jonny (Chris Pang), before taking him down during a job in Rio. A year later, she and Jane are given an assignment in Hamburg to protect Elena (Naomi Scott), an engineer who attempted to blow the whistle on Calisto, a sustainable energy device she helped develop, ahead of its launch. As it turns out, it hurts people and has the potential to be weaponized. She doesn’t realize the severity of the situation until a skilled assassin, Hodak (Jonathan Tucker) tries to take her out in a coffee shop. Her new Angel friends are able to save her, but Hodak gets away. Not only that, he kills Edgar (Djimon Hounsou), one of the Bosleys, or lieutenants at Charlie’s agency, making the mission more personal, especially for Jane, who was close to Edgar.
Following the retirement of John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), Susan Bosley (Banks), the only former Angel to make it to that rank, becomes of the direct supervisor of the women. It helps that one of the new Angels starts off as a novice, as this allows for the viewer to stay with her on her journey into this crime-busting, asskicking, jet setting world. Before she can earn her wings, Elena has to prove herself on the field, and although there are a few mishaps, she discovers her strength.
The best part of the film is the chemistry between the Angels. There are no divas here. They work together as a unit, always having each other’s backs. All of the actresses are sublime, but Stewart, who has mostly stuck to indies these past several years, really proves herself a star here, with her striking looks, clever one-liners, and overall badassness. Meanwhile, Sam Claflin, an actor known for dramas, shows his comedic side as Alexander Brock, the head of Calisto who finds himself in over his head.
Banks makes an effort to be socially conscious, as we see in a scene in which the Angels get intel from a source in Turkey, Fatima (Marie-Lou Sellem), in exchange for a van stocked with feminine products and birth control pills for her to give out to underprivileged women. And although it’s not full explored, it’s implied that Sabina is gay or bi. Banks really drives home the theme of sisterhood in a high-octane sequence during the credits featuring the likes of Ronda Rousey, Danica Patrick, Aly Raisman, Laverne Cox and original Angel Jaclyn Smith. She even makes the bold decision to present a twist when it comes to the identity of Charlie.
“Charlie’s Angels” opens Nov. 15 in theaters nationwide.