This is a delightful spy action movie. It is just a lot of breezy fun to watch.
This Charlie’s Angels sets itself up as a continuation of all of those that have come before it. This is the soft reboot formula that worked so well for the Fast and Furious movies. It doesn’t erase or replace the show or movies, it just builds on them. The Townsend Agency is now international, and Bosley is a rank not a person. Still, all of those that have come before are still a part of the agency’s history. This movie focuses on two agents. Jane, a no nonsense former MI-6 agent and Sabina, a wild card. The movie opens with them taking out a smuggler. The two of them, played by Ella Balinski and Kristen Stewart respectively, don’t exactly get along. A year later, they are working in Europe. The Agency is contacted by Elena, a programmer on an experimental energy device that is potentially dangerous. She wants to turn over evidence that the company, or someone in it, is hiding the danger. They are attacked by an assassin, and the teams Bosley ends up dead. With Elena in tow, the team meets up with a new Bosley, played by Elizabeth Banks, and tries to secure these dangerous prototypes. The whole thing turns into a twisty spy mystery, with echoes of Mission Impossible.
Most of the movie works real well. The characters are better defined than you would expect. There is some specificity to them. The plot is lightweight, but it works. These types of movies tend to get convoluted, but Charlie’s Angels manages some complexity without getting too knotty. It sets up some uncertainty over a traitor in the teams midst, and keeps it just uncertain enough to be enticing. You can guess who is the good guy and who is the bad guy pretty easily, but there is just enough to make you doubt yourself for it to work. The action scenes are well constructed; you can follow the action and the flow of each fight. It maintains a clarity that some more ambitious action movies fail at. They are not that excitingly choreographed, though. The execution feels a little sloppy at times, with tame stunts and oddly framed shots. This movie will never be confused with John Wick.
Kristen Stewart steals this movie. She just takes over every scene she is in. There is something infectiously joyous and fun about her performance. It is not as if she is up against easily overmatched performers. The cast is filled with “that guys”, actors like Djimon Honsou and Nat Faxon. Patrick Stewart plays a Bosley, and is clearly having a great time. Balinski proves herself adept in the actions scenes. Naomi Scott, from Aladdin, plays the client and she is just as watchable her as she was in that early summer hit. Elizabeth Banks, who also wrote, directed and produced this movie, delivers in her role. Still, none of that matters when Kristen Stewart is on the screen. She walks a line of not taking the movie seriously at all, and delivering a perfectly serious performance. She plays the teams wild card, and seems to be treating the whole movie as if she is a wild card. It works; it is magnetic.
This movie seems like it is getting ignored at the box office. That is predictable. It is the kind of movie that I think people will happen upon in a few years. Maybe it will show up on cable, or on a streaming service and people will notice that it is much better than expected. It isn’t a perfect movie, but it is certainly better than it has been received.