A Review of Charlie's Angels (2019)

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS

The Charlie’s Angels reboot came to theaters this November. It had big shoes to fill after the 70s TV show featuring Farrah Fawcett, and then the successful 2000 movie adaption starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore. 

I saw this movie opening weekend with a pretty open mind. I didn’t expect much, but I was still let down. I’d give this film a 4/10. Here are my three main issues with it.

They’re not a team

The 2019 Angels

The original Charlie’s Angels films had three women played by three equally big name actresses who are not only co-workers, but long-time best friends before the events of the movie even take place. In a series of quirky opening sequence flashbacks of Charlie’s Angels (2000), we see clips of them handcuffed together, tied together, and trapped together to show their inseparable bond. The audience understands how these women need each other to form Charlie’s Angels.

There’s none of this in the 2019 reboot. Two of them, Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska), met only once, apparently three years before the main plot of the movie begins. But they didn’t talk at all during the time period in-between, and the only thing they have in common is their 5 minute interaction years ago. 

When the three of them start working together, I never got the sense of teamwork and camaraderie. They just separately beat up bad guys, right next to each other. Well, Sabina and Jane beat up bad guys at least. In the 2000 movie, we saw Alex launch Natalie to kick the bad guy into Dylan’s punch. Teamwork! Sabina at one point tries to signal to Jane to cover her, but then Jane just ignores her and does something completely different without telling anyone. This is NOT teamwork.

I definitely never got the sense that the new Angels every truly became friends. They cry over each other once, but I didn’t even understand why. They never share anything personal about themselves with each other and bond. There’s next to nothing that would lead me to believe they’ve formed a friendship.

Elena (Naomi Scott) was my absolute least favorite. The 2019 movie took a risk by including a character who, at the beginning of the film, had no idea what the Townsend Agency was, and she’s one of the three main Angels. I assumed, based off the trailers, that the movie would be about two angels training a new third to their team. I was wrong. Elena spends the entire movie acting like a complete fool, never learning combat, and never learning how to spy until the literal end credit sequence. The other women just tell her to sit still while they handle the action scenes. This is not an exaggeration. They break into a warehouse, tell Elena to sit down, lock the door, and be quiet. 

The team aspect bothered me before the movie even came out. When the cast was announced, I was surprised that only one angel would be played by an actress whose name I knew, which was Kristen Stewart. I honestly still cannot name the other two actors. I just looked up what their names were, because I forgot. Then the trailers focused heavily on Kristen Stewart. Based off the official trailer alone, I guessed that this whole movie was just about her.

In the actual film it really felt as if they were trying to make Elena the main character. Which I also thoroughly disliked because the point is that the team of Angels together are the main characters. 

Reverting expectations, in a bad way (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Picture from the 2000’s 

As a fan of the original movies, I was excited to see the characters reimagined almost 20 years later. In the 2000s film, I loved the consistentcy of the women sitting on the couch with the adorably stupid Bosley (Bill Murray) saying “Good morning, Charlie,” everyday. 

The new Angels say “Good morning, Charlie” on the couch maybe once in the whole film, in the last 30 minutes. I was really excited when I saw Patrick Stewart as Bosley - I was so ready to see him act a fool then get kidnapped and for the women to go save him. Instead, Patrick Stewart’s Bosley turned evil and sold the Angels out and plotted to kill them. Not cool, Elizabeth Banks. This twist wasn’t even done well. It felt like Elizabeth Banks just wanted to write herself a pivotal role to play without actually figuring out how to properly factor that role into the movie.

They also showed Charlie’s arm at the end to reveal that Charlie is a white woman using a voice changer to make herself sound like a man over the phone… for absolutely no reason. 

Where’s the camp?!

The 2019 version

Upon the announcement of the Charlie’s Angels reboot, I rewatched the old films. Charlie’s Angels and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle are both on Netflix. I went into these movies only with the expectation that they would be about a spy girl gang, which it is. At first, I was struck by how bad it was. But as I kept watching, I realized that everyone is fully aware of how bad it is, and that this is clearly done on purpose for comedic relief. My favorite example of this is when Natalie (Cameron Diaz) is dancing at a club on stage in a room full of black people to Baby Got Back.This skinny blonde white girl starts twerking, and it’s so uncomfortable until the camera cuts to the black audience making the exact same facial expression as myself. And it was hilarious. 

In film, the term camp refers to a hilarious exaggeration done purposefully. Think Rocky Horror, Airplane, or Clue. I saw the 2019 Charlie’s Angels reboot with a friend who had never seen the originals. She kept complaining about how Kristen Stewart’s character seemed “cringey”, to which I kept saying that she’s the only character I appreciated. In actuality, the issue is that the rest of them aren’t cringey enough. 

Sabina was the only one not taking herself seriously, cracking jokes, messing around while in the middle of a mission. The other angels, the Bosleys, and the bad guys all think they are in a James Bond film, and it comes off terribly. Charlie’s Angels (2000) feels like Mama Mia or Austin Powers, and it’s great. The reboot missed the mark completely, which makes sense because they didn’t even try.