But doesn’t maximize its potential
Warning: minor spoilers ahead
Nearly every generation has had its own Charlie’s Angels. The 70’s had Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson, and the 00’s had Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. Today, we’re introduced to a new set of Angels, Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott, with Director Elizabeth Banks at the helm. If you’ve seen the trailer or the movie, you’d know she plays Bosley, too, the Angels’ direct line to Charlie, a role previously played by men.
Charlie’s Angels’ success in the past was primarily due to its then-novel girl power trope, the comedy, and well, the good-looking women that assumed the lead roles. Unsurprisingly, today’s audience had high expectations for its recent adaptation. What’s new? What’s it trying to do different? What feminist statement is it going to make?
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Now if you’re looking at it solely from that perspective, Banks version might disappoint. Her vision, though noble, is riddled with cliches, like how male-dominated roles are now played by women (case in point: Bosley) including the mysterious Charlie Townsend (who, as implied at the credits, was an Angel from the original 1970s TV series played by Jaclyn Smith). Women empowerment was apparent sure, but lukewarm, even as Stewart’s character declares “I think women can do anything” to the camera. It was, however, refreshing to know, through the ensuing montage, that there are many other angels part of the now-global Townsend Agency and multiple Bosleys who supervise them. Other than that, the plot stays within its lane of new-discovery-that-can-be-used-for-mass-destruction, cute disguises, explosions and a choreographed dance number.
Meanwhile the cast, most remarkably Stewart’s loosey-goosey Sabina who was unexpectedly fun and sexy albeit a little offbeat, has great chemistry. Balinska’s Jane was striking and pragmatic, and Scott’s engineer-later-turned-Angel Elena was incredibly relatable. But if I’m being honest, other than Stewart’s consistently funny, filter-free Sabina, this generation’s Charlie’s Angels lacks the energy and timing, as well as the answers we’re looking for.
But hey, if you are just looking to get your mind off reality and be entertained, the 2019 remake of the cult classic ticks all those boxes. It’s still fun and fearless (just not girl-power hardcore).
Now showing in cinemas.
Art Alexandra Lara