Almost 20 years after the first ever Charlie’s Angels film, the franchise has returned with a new film, directed, written and produced by Elizabeth Banks.
Charlie’s Angels (2019) centres around an agency run by the figure known as Charlie who is not seen but only heard (minus a short clip towards the end of the film). The agency is called the Townsend Agency and is full of female spies known as ‘Angels’ who train in all things James Bond and who all report to a senior spy referred to as ‘Bosley’, considered a position of rank.
Before we get into the review, it is worth saying that I have never actually seen the first Charlie’s Angels film or any of the franchise. I don’t have much background knowledge when it comes to this franchise, but this left me without many expectations for the most recent film.
The story revolves around Elena Houghlin, a scientist who with her team has invented ‘Calisto’, a sustainable power source which could revolutionise the world’s power systems. The group are being rushed into production by higher ups but as it exists, there is one major flaw within Calisto: it can be weaponised. As neither her boss nor investors want to stop production when Houghlin reveals the flaw she decides to warn others of the dangers and thus, is thrown into the world of assassins and angels.
The main angels we follow are Sabina (Kirsten Stewart), a more laid back and fun-loving angel who tends to do the ground work, getting into costumes and blending in with communities, and Jane (Ella Balinska), a more serious, former MI-6 agent who later became an angel. These two come together to create the common serious, straight lace meets laid back, goofy dynamic which at times feels a bit forced but ultimately works quite nicely. Stewart’s character immediately addresses issues from the original film, that of women being exploited for their sexuality. She dons a blonde wig and fancy dress in the first scene whilst talking about women’s independence and how being underestimated is a huge asset in her line of work. She then beats up a misogynistic, international smuggler (he also happens to be Australian in this film and it took me half the film to figure this out as I’m still not used to hearing the accent in Hollywood films). As Elena joins the mix, the three girls become stuck in a major game of who can you trust.
The film is definitely aimed at a younger female audience. It discusses weightier issues of feminism whilst remaining fun and light hearted for the intended audience and as such, it works well. Whilst sometimes being on the nose - I’m talking about the notably bad edit towards the start of the film of girls around the world - it is seemingly aware of said qualities and uses them to its advantage. The union of main characters, Sabina and Jane felt quite forced at the end but I think the film was aware of this and poked fun at the quick connection between the two despite their significant differences. Ultimately, I believe the film achieves what it intended to. It is by no means an incredible film but it’s fun, filled with action scenes and is one of the few women spy films out there.