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  Charlie's Angels Equal Fights
Year: 2019
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Jonathan Tucker, Nat Faxon, Chris Pang, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Noah Centineo, David Schütter, Hannah Hoekstra, Jane Chirwa, Jaclyn Smith
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jonny (Chris Pang) are deep in conversation on the balcony of this swanky Rio de Janeiro apartment, the subject being his belief of what a woman's place is in society, and her differing view that they are more capable than he has convinced himself. As if to prove this, she playfully wraps a curtain around his neck and not-so-playfully begins to strangle him, leading to a fight between Sabina, her colleague Jane (Ella Balinska) and some of Jonny's goons. When she proves herself his better, her handler Bosley (Patrick Stewart) appears to congratulate his agents, because now they are one step closer to tracking the villains. But one year later, there's another case...

The way some were complaining about this reboot of nineteen-seventies television series Charlie's Angels, writer and director Elizabeth Banks had accidentally adapted a big screen version of Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch by mistake, such was the outrage when she blamed the lack of interest in this would-be blockbuster on men not being interested in it. She was of the opinion that had this been a superhero flick, it would have done better because they were traditionally male stories, yet that ignored that her film was basically a James Bond rip-off of which there had been countless down the years ever since that franchise began way back when with Dr. No in the early sixties.

Anyway, whatever the reason was, Charlie's Angels 2019 flopped and it was written off by a legion of haters as proof nobody wanted feminism in their blockbusters come the twenty-first century, but aside from a handful of knowing, kidding references, this was far more in the spirit of a gender-reversed Bond copy from those earlier cash-ins of the sixties, with a McGuffin reliant on a gimmick much as the likes of Derek Flint or Modesty Blaise would have encountered. It was clear they were hoping to emulate the success of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible series with a similar team-based plot, except Banks went one better than those for she genuinely was interested in showing that team aspect.

Cruise was largely interested in providing a showcase for himself, but by casting three stars who had not proven themselves box office guarantees, this could amuse itself by having them demonstrate a winking sisterhood, part parody of the expectations of a female-led action effort, and part embrace of the possibilities of what could happen when women set aside their differences and work together in a common cause. Yes, that cause may have been emancipation, but more than that it was having a good time at the pictures where kinetic sequences familiar from decades of spy movies were offered a boost by a sense of humour and a feeling that no matter how artificial this was, it remained important for what it represented. It may have taken a little too long to find its groove, but when it did it was a lot of fun.

Perhaps surprisingly based on a somewhat dour persona previously, Stewart almost stole the picture as the wisecracking member of the new trio, sort of the Bugs Bunny role, or the Bugs Bunny dressed as a girl bunny role. The Mickey Mouse (Minnie Mouse?) was Balinska, one of two Londoner Angels, who was given the thankless task of being the no-nonsense, sensible Angel, but she brought a physicality to her reading that made her more formidable than her co-stars. The latest recruit was Elena, played by Naomi Scott, the one getting an ego boost by becoming a secret agent and undergoing a somewhat clichéd character development of empowerment; again, she sold what could have been hackneyed by sheer charm. Banks played another Bosley as Patrick Stewart's was retiring (and there was a star obviously enjoying himself, with a twinkle in his eye), but while there were twists in the plot, it mostly ignored the innovations all the better to ask, yeah, these are female agents, what of it? The best thing to do was take the whole thing for granted. Music by Brian Tyler.

[Quite a few extras on Sony's Blu-ray, including deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, featurettes and the music video for the theme song.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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