Like many people, especially the constant, eyebrow-raised jaded queens who shake their heads “no” to everything, I too was skeptical of the new Charlie’s Angels reboot. In 2000, Drew Barrymore resurrected the beloved 1970’s television show, and along with co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, she turned it into one of the most successful major film franchises in history. To date, Barrymore’s Charlie’s Angels and its sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle have grossed over 500 million dollars worldwide. Fast forward to 2019, and a new trio of angels is set to bring the franchise forward under the watchful eye of the first-ever female, “Bosley,” played by the gorgeous and hilarious Elizabeth Banks.
Relative newcomers, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, form the 2019 team with ‘Twilight’ veteran Kristen Stewart at the helm as the film’s most recognizable star. By comparison Barrymore, Liu and Diaz all were major household names with a big following when they took on the franchise so Scott and Balinska have a tall order as lesser-known actresses to a worldwide audience.
I have to say though, after screening the film, these girls hold their own. The charisma and presence are abundant. It’s worth noting too that Balinska is supermodel-gorgeous. At times in the film, she looks like supermodel Adriana Lima dipped in caramel. Scott’s actual beauty is downplayed onscreen as she portrays a mousey, dowdy computer nerd. However, when I interviewed her in person she was dazzling and fabulous. I walked in, saw her and I thought, oh my goodness, who is THAT? Stewart posses a signature androgynous beauty. Her character’s suggested sexual fluidity in the film is notable, though she seemed to grow visibly annoyed when I asked her about it on-camera (see the interview).
Together, with Banks, who also wrote and produced the film, the new trio delivers a modern take on the franchise that’s action-packed. It’s also campy fun, with an “It’s about time” level of social consciousness. Scott, Balinska, and Stewart are stunning women physically but so distinctly different I wasn’t sure at first they would be able to pull off the tight-knit friend component that is obligatory in Charlie’s Angels films. As soon as the action started though they emerged as a unit and were instantly believable as an ensemble.
Just in time for the holidays, Charlie’s Angels is poised to be a hit of the season delivering a wild ride full of sensory overload; breath-taking exotic locations, heart-racing chase scenes, stuff exploding spectacularly (of course), and those inevitable badass fight sequences. If that weren’t enough, the soundtrack had me in the theater about to throw my hands up in the air like whaaaaat! Seriously, the music is no joke, complete with a fusion of trippy beats and slick R&B / Pop vocal goodness from the likes of the Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, the legendary Chaka Khan and a hot new remix of Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” that’s already been on my gym playlist for the past couple of weeks.
Not to be underrated is the vision of Banks, who had the idea to reboot Charlie’s Angels and build upon the Barrymore films in a continued homage to women and sisterhood. It’s essentially a story of women not waiting around for a man to save them. Even the idea of a female ‘Bosley’ is a power move in the film, explained by one of the smartest story adaptations I’ve ever seen in a movie.
No Charlie’s Angels film would be complete without a few ‘easter eggs’ for the real die-hard fans. I’m one of those fans, and during my press interviews with the cast last week, I had the pleasure of telling Elizabeth banks how much I loved the little nuggets of retro goodness she weaves into the film. I felt like a little boy again seeing some of the deliberate moments she includes like a particular item from one of my favorite TV episodes of the show. Banks shared with me her very intentional and respectful mission of merging the old with the new,
“One of the themes of this film is legacy. It’s about women standing on the shoulders on the women who came before them. That’s why we honor everything that’s happened in Charlie’s Angels universe. …I put all those ‘easter eggs’ in there, for the fans – like me. I wanted people to understand I don’t reject what came before this. I love it. I’m building on it. I like to say, it was not my idea to turn Charlie’s Angels to a film from the TV show. It was Drew Barrymore’s idea… I’m building on it.”
It goes without saying, the women are the stars of the new Charlie’s Angels but, I would be remiss if I did not call out the hot men in the cast also, including sexy silver fox Patrick Stewart, Djimon Gaston Hounsou, Luis Gerardo Mendez, and ripped-bodied, square-jawed Jonathan Tucker who plays the film’s ruthless tattoed assassin. Mmmm Mmmm, I feel guilty admitting it, but Tucker is so damn fine, a couple of times I found myself actually rooting for HIM in the fight scenes. Sorry girls.
The new Charlie’s Angels is a lot of fun; a hybrid of beauty meets Bond, with laughs and campy high jinx along the way. It’s a good time with twists and fun surprise cameos. However, more than that, it’s a movie with heart, where women save the world – just like they always do every day, for real.
This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers.