Charlie’s Angels, Movie Review

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A Brief History

On November 15, 2019, fans of the 1976-1981 television franchise by the same name and the 2 feature films that continued the story line, Charlie’s Angels (2000) and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003) will be treated to the latest iteration of the “jiggle” oriented action adventure series when this year’s version of Charlie’s Angels makes its debut across the United States.

Digging Deeper

A little background is in order, as the television series featured 3 beautiful women (Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith) as undercover crime fighters of extraordinary smarts and fighting abilities working for an unseen and mysterious man known as “Charlie.”  The series shamelessly exploited smoking hot women engaged in highly physical confrontations and catapulted the careers of the young women that played the role of “Angel.”  Later cast replacements included Cheryl Ladd, Tanya Roberts and Shelley Hack.   Often sniffed at by critics as “jiggle TV,” the audiences (men and boys?) loved the show!  (We often find critics out of touch with real audiences.  Do you?)  For that matter, the fact that Charlie’s Angels depicts strong, smart women, successfully competing against evil men may serve as somewhat of an inspiration/selling point to women and girls eager to embrace such characters.

Theatrical release poster

After the television show ran its course, the concept hit the big screen in 2000, using 3 exceptional actresses in the title roles, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz.  These ladies had the combination of good looks and terrific senses of style and humor to make the movie and its sequel (2003) work quite well, with box office revenues of $264 million and $259 million respectively.  So why, oh why did it take 16 years to come out with another installment in the Charlie’s Angels franchise?  (Seriously, we really wonder.)

The new version of the Angels includes Elizabeth Banks as a “Bosley,” a “rank” or assignment rather than a person’s name.  This Bosley is the handler of the Angels, the go between that coordinates between Charlie and the ladies.  Patrick Stewart plays the part of a retiring Bosley.  The title characters are the fetching Kristen Stewart (no relation to Patrick), Ella Balinska, and Naomi Scott, all of whom are dynamic actresses that convincingly fill the role of tough, smart, and capable secret agents while maintaining a sexy femininity.  Banks notably wrote the screenplay and directed the film, as well as co-produced it.  Ella Balinska brings a British/Caribbean/Polish character to the team, and Naomi Scott takes the international flavor a step farther by bringing English and Indian heritage to the mix.  Patrick Stewart, of course, also lends a British air to the aroma.  The audience gets the impression the Angels are an international organization and NOT merely an American operation anymore!  The “Charlie” operation gets somewhat of a reveal as to its proportions by the end of the film.

Without spoiling the plot, we can tell you that the action is fast and furious.  You will NOT find time to get bored.  Character development takes a back seat to action, which is what we prefer.  Pacing is excellent, with scenes moving logically from one to the next without awkward pauses or delays.  Thank you, Ms. Banks!  Special effects and stunts are excellent, though you may find the fight scenes are nowhere near as stylized (ala Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as the other 2 feature films.  The fights in this latest edition are certainly Hollywoodesque, but much closer to reality than the other films.  Which style you prefer in your film watching is a matter of personal preference.  We find either approach perfectly acceptable.

Another minor departure from the first 2 big screen adaptations is the humor is a bit more muted in 2019’s version.  Humor is definitely a part of the film, make no mistake, but the comedic master of Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore is not quite matched by the newest Angels.  Still, those gals do a heck of a good job, anyway, and do real justice to their high fashion outfits when they go to a formal party.

Not surprisingly, a fantasy adventure film heavy on the action and light on deep social issues does not gain Charlie’s Angels unmitigated approval from critics.  Rotten Tomatoes contributing critics give the film only a 67% approval rating, though we confidently predict the audience approval will be much higher.  In fact, preliminary audience approval is at a creditable 83%.  The audience gets to eyeball some nice scenery, such as European locations, mansions, fancy party clothes and beautiful people.  Definitely a visual treat overall.  Oh, and stay for the credits for some bonus scenes.  Rated PG-13 for the violence, we do not believe kids of any age would be harmed by seeing the film.  Running time is 118 minutes but seems much shorter.  We predict you will not feel compelled to nod off or run to the restroom.  Not a tear jerker, inspirational or moving film, there is no discernable historical points to be made in Charlie’s Angels, just some great FUN and ACTION!

The newest Charlie’s Angels keeps to the tried and true formula that made the previous movies and television a success, and includes the action, energy and interaction of the characters we have come to expect.  We loved the movie and found it fun and entertaining.  While those familiar with the other films and TV shows will understand the cameos and allusions in this latest version, even those people who are not already fans of the franchise will almost assuredly like the movie anyway.

(Note: To give this film some modern perspective for those unfamiliar with the previous films, we think if you liked the Kingsman films of 2015 and 2017 you will like Charlie’s Angels.)

Question for students (and subscribers): Who is your favorite Angel of all time?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Condon, Jack and David Hostede. The Charlies Angels’ Casebook. Pomegranate Communications Inc, 2000.

Pringel, Mike. Channel Surfing: Charlie’s Angels. CreateSpace, 2012.

The featured image in this article, the official logo for Charlies Angels (2019), the copyright of which is believed to be owned by Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and/or its graphic artist, is used in article to illustrate the subject in question, where no free equivalent is available or could be created that would adequately give the same information, in an article on a website intended for educational purposes per fair use under United States copyright law.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.