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Charlie’s Angels (2019)

CRUMBLIES…3 crumblies

You know, there’s not a lot left of Old Jack. I’ve spent much of the last year being fingered by professionals, getting passed from probe to probe, excision to excision, carefully inflated chair to he-could-comfortably-die-now arm-chair.  Come a return to reasonable good health, you’d think the gods would line up a set of classy films of beautiful leading ladies, wits and fists, and scowling old farts whispering in the sidelines of the darkness. In their defence, come a cinema outing from the home, in this blur of teen-boy daydreams and Patrick Stewart close-ups, they came damned close with Charlie’s Angels. Damned close. Dammmmmmnnned close…

So, there are multiple Bosleys, the redoubtable office manager of the Angels, the distractingly-hot-but-please-give-them-their-seriousness-cake-crime-fighters of yesteryear. One is retiring today: the unnaturally lithe Patrick Stewart. What a sweet chap, but you can just sense the growly tension between him and next-Bosley, writer-director and franchise advocate, Elizabeth Banks. Her team have just come off an eye-catching intro of acrobatics, flirting and violence, done the old guy a retirement nod-and-despatch, when the plot slides into view…and old Jack here just stared, trying not to over-calculate the entire film in the thirty seconds after these monumentally indicative scenes.

Ok, so, a scientific woman (Naomi Scott as Elena, scientist with morals and a destiny) turns up set on betraying her tangibly-nutso boss (Sam Claflin as Brock, bastard with a coward’s everything and no great feel for comedy). His team of evil bastards (it’s in the teeth, it turns out) are set on selling an energy conservation toy that kills people stood near it. This is bad. But then so are a few things…

The Angels: you can be too boyish (Kristen Stewart, not succeeding at leaving the independent film circuit – or the laughs), too English (Ella Balinska gliding and gracing and getting this-close to characterising…) and too unbelievable (Scott’s Elena’s future as an Angel is flirted with until a metal collar and inconsistencies let her down – not least the decision to get glammed up under duress). Oh yes.

The Bosleys: you can be be too obvious, surprise-less and too…Hollywoodised. Looking at you, Picard. So nearly an insight for oldsters into maturity, retirement and revenge on those who take over from you. Or, rather, discard you with a flourish of their own arrogance and youth. But…not to be. Banks, meantime, is rather terrific.

The Plot: sigh. Bad people must be fought. Bad energy MacGuffins must be destroyed. Both must also be bounced around in skin-tight outfits with acceptably-empowered-sexy hand-to-hand and gun-based combat (ok, Angels). And all plot-points must be undercut by the obvious stuff in the first ten minutes of the film…

Growl.

Old Jack so needed a really satisfying time and Charlie’s Angels offers up an okay one. And I’m being nice, here. The versions from the early 2000s felt more empowered, sexy and in-your-face smart-arsey than this. Sorry. The 2019 version chokes on its own pop corniness. I say chokes – perhaps asphyxiates itself with a tickly cough. The best things? It is trying to be light, fun and funny. It is certainly assured in places, excitingly actiony in others, and perhaps…just perhaps…worth another, better go with this personable cast and an angrier script.

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