Review – Tarnished Halos (“Charlie’s Angels”)

OMG! Another remake? In yet another unending stream of reboots, remakes, and reimagining’s, here’s (somebody stop me from heaving) a remake of the hit TV series, which in turn is a remake of the hit movies by McG back in the 2000’s. (*screaming*) Doesn’t Hollywood even CARE what they’re doing these days?

Welcome to 2019 and the age of feminism, empowerment, and making all films such. Written, directed, and starring Elizabeth Banks, this version of the once popular TV all-girl spy trio has gotten a face-lift and is now more Mission: Impossible than Spy. Not that there isn’t any humor, for that you have (of all people) Kristen Stewart’s wise-cracking, loose-cannon chatterbox Angel named Sabina Wilson. This movie also flips the Bosley character: “Bosley” is no longer someone’s name, just a code word for the Townsend Agency’s handlers, and there are Bosley’s all over the globe. Banks plays Bosley (Rebekah) in this movie.

Borrowing heavily from the 2000 movie plot, we have scientist Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott) who has developed an octagonal cube-thingy called Callisto that can sustain & give permanent energy, but it also has a catastrophic flaw that can kill people. She wants to fix the deadly error, but her sleazy boss, Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) could care less about the little minor problem. With no place else to go, she calls on the Townsend Agency for help, and gets Angel’s wild-card Sabina and no-nonsense former MI-6 agent Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) to help her out, along with [Edgar] Bosley (Djimon Hounsou). But pretty soon they’re pursued by a silent, but deadly tat-covered thin man (Jonathan Tucker) who’s out to kill them.

Switching out Bosley’s, Rebekah takes over and has the two Angels (plus Elena as an Angel-in-training) try and steal the remaining Callisto cubes, BUT! They’ve been pilfered by the bad guys and now the chase is on all over the world to try and get those stolen cubes back. Paris, Rio, London, Istanbul, warehouses, racetracks, you name it; the girls get themselves into situation after situation where they’re this close to getting the goodies, only to have them slip away. Oh, and they fight off a bunch of henchmen along the way, too. While this is all happening we meet Saint (Luis Gerardo Mendez), the safe-house caretaker, Johnny Smith (Chris Pang), a notorious international smuggler, and John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), the very first Bosley who has just retired

Banks, wearing all three hats, made a whole lotta blunders in making this film, but even with this shameless vanity project of hers now done, I can say this… it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be. First problem is her screenplay; filled with ripped-off plot (and character) devices from the far better (and more fun) 2000 Charlie’s Angels, plot holes a’plenty, a disjointed and ho-hum cliched & reused story, corny/lame dialogue, and forced situations that show her lesser writing talents. In short, Banks should stick to her day job, and speaking of which, she also directed. As far as THAT is concerned, she fairs slightly better.

While Banks knows her way around a camera, she still needs work in shooting a fight scene (back the camera off, Liz!!) and some action scenarios. Banks as the actress is wonderful, having given that her primary attention lo these many years. What truly surprised me was Kristen Stewart. She was 180 degrees from her sullen, brooding days and turned in a such a daffy performance it made me smile, if only she had a better comedic script to bite into. Scott tried to bring some life and fun into the mix like Kristen, since Balinska didn’t have much to do except kick serious ass.

With so many other films these days, some of the best stuff came from the supporting players: Patrick Stewart is always a welcome breath of fresh air, Hounsou (for his short time) is great, and Pang is a scene stealer every time. This movie wanted to be more than the sum total of its parts: a slam-bang, edgy, female-driven, spy thriller resurrecting the Charlie’s Angels name for a new era, but instead it was just another horn-tooting, slapped-together struggling remake/reboot wanna-be. Oh well…          

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Based on the hit TV series of the same name, director McG (née Joseph McGinty Nichol) decided to pull out all the stops and make this film, not so much an action/adventure, but a crazy, loopy, irresistibly silly comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously. And the three main stars are having WAY too much fun!

Just like the successful 1976-81 TV series, the Charles Townsend Agency is the go-to place if you need private investigating. Run by an unseen Charlie (voiced by Robert Forsyth, the original TV voice), his three top-notch girls are disco-loving Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), tomboy-ish Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), and kick-ass Alex Munday (Lucy Liu). They also have an assistant named Bosley (Bill Murray) helps out with the grunt work. Their assignment? Find Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), a software genius who owns Knox Enterprises. He’s believed to have been kidnapped by Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) who runs a communications-satellite company called Redstar.

They find Corwin, but they also find a wildly crazed & silent killer simply named the Thin Man (Crispin Glover as his most Crispin Glover-ist). But to determine if his company has been compromised, the Angels go undercover there to plant a bug in their top secret vault. Look for Melissa McCarthy in a brief cameo! Things get dicey when Dylan falls for Corwin, but soon finds out that she’s been used to get info from her. After Corwin shoots her, but she miraculously survives, only to return to the office with the others. . .and the Townsend Agency goes KABOOM! This is getting personal!

Bosley is able to communicate to the Angels (through via a radio transmitter implanted in a tooth) where he’s been kidnapped, and the gang rendezvous at an abandoned lighthouse. From there it’s a non-stop chase & fight that doesn’t let up. Sure, it’s all nonsense, obvious wire-work, and CG trickery, but who cares? It’s so utterly ridiculous and best of all, the film knows it’s ridiculous, and not in a bad way. Writers Ryan Rowe, Ed Soloman, John August came up with a winning screenplay that hits all the marks; fun, wickedly off-the-wall, cheesy dialogue, and some of the best (dumbest) stunts ever!

McG really loves to direct this film, using all manners of clever camera work, not wasting a single frame. He especially loves to shoot the girls and their… um… assets. Call it what you will, but that man can’t resist shooting as much heinie as possible. On the DVD there’s an entire short film about Lucy Liu losing her mojo and the girls have to kick-start her by using defibrillator paddles… on her bottom! It’s a riot! If this movie was hilarious, the 2003 sequel was even funnier!

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