Despite its iconic title, 2019’s Charlie’s Angels very much had the deck stacked against it.
The new action film, which was written and directed by Pitch Perfect mastermind Elizabeth Banks, is a continuation of the 1970s TV series and the hit early noughties movies of the same name that starred Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu (there are a few direct nods to both of these past iterations of Angels in the film) rather than a reboot of the franchise.
Yet it was still a film in danger of suffering from the recent wave of reboot fatigue, an apprehension that had moviegoers asking each other prior to the film’s release, ‘do we even need this new movie in our lives?’
But the answer is yes, yes we freaking do because this new Charlie’s Angels is a complete joy to watch.
The key to the movie’s success lies in the casting of the new trio of glamorous crime fighters who lead the film.
Listen to Kee Reece and Laura Brodnik explain what led to Charlie’s Angels becoming one of the best movies of the year, along with the other top pop culture stories of the day on Mamamia’s daily entertainment podcast The Spill.
In this new Charlie’s Angels world, Ella Balinska plays Jane Kano, a former MI-6 agent who defected to become an Angel with the Townsend Agency. As a bit of a lone wolf, Jane is the straight shooter of the group and Balinska, in her first big-screen leading lady role, does a perfect job of bringing her to life with dry wit and some savage fight sequences.
Naomi Scott, fresh from portraying Princess Jasmine in the live-action adaption of Aladdin, plays Elena Houghlin, a scientist who becomes accidentally caught up in the Angels’ world after creating a new form of technology that has the potential to turn deadly when used by the wrong people.
Rounding out the trio is the real wild card of this whole thing, which is Kristen Stewart as Sabina Wilson, a reckless Angel from a wealthy background who was recruited from a reform school to join the agency.
Having reached global fandom in the soppy Twilight franchise and then retreated from the spotlight to focus on smaller independent movies, Kristen Stewart’s presence and comedic timing as the off-kilter Sabina is a completely unexpected highlight of the movie, which is why Elizabeth Banks so cleverly wrote the part especially for her.
It’s also clear to see that the movie has been shot through a completely feminist lens, carefully selling its empowerment message via everything from the costume choices to the dialogue and the absence of a central love story, yet it never comes across as tiresome or preachy.
It’s actually impressive how a franchise that has been around since the 70s has been able to reinvent itself into a cinematic offering that feels so fresh, so beguiling and is a perfect representation of where pop-culture should be headed.