Callum Toole’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Unseen, Undivided, Unstoppable"
This is quite a interesting case for me. I've seen some of the 70s television show and thought it was fine for what it was. It is admittedly quite dated now. I also only saw bits and pieces of McG's two previous films. What I DID see however was not that great at all. So I'm not really sure why this new iteration had me all that excited. I think it was mainly the cast that did it for me. Once the trailers came out, most people replied to them with a collective groan. I replied with more of a cautiously optimistic approach. No, the trailers didn't impress me but I still held out hope that the film would be decent at least. Now that I've seen it, was that the case?
Thankfully I can say YES, it was actually. For me this was simply two words. FUN and ENTERTAINING. That's really all I was hoping for at the end of the day. This is a much better movie than the trailers would have you believe. The dialogue is fast and witty. The characters are interesting enough to get invested in. The action is well handled. Heck, I won't lie, the soundtrack and musical score are pretty addictive as well. So let's not waste any more time just skirting around the film. Let's get into it!
The performances. Everyone turns in fine work here. Stewart is clearly having a blast as the no-filter hothead "Sabina Wilson". She's feisty, energetic and it felt like she improvised many scenes in the movie. This provided a lot of good comedy too. Scott is fitting in her role as the smart hacker turned whistleblower "Elena Houghlin". She was relatable, funny and fierce when the movie called for it. Balinska is very strong as the icy cold and suitably lethal former MI-6 agent "Jane Kano". She sold every scene with swagger and confidence. She also greatly impressed when it came to her action scenes. Banks is cunning, charismatic and clever as one of the various new takes on "Bosley". She fit well into the team and once again impressed on screen and now off-screen as well. The trio's chemistry also felt very natural.
The direction. It's no secret that this isn't Bank's first time directing. No, that title belongs to "Pitch Perfect 2". A movie that I didn't really like all that much. I remember it being very choppy, the jokes felt forced and the overall film was just very underwhelming. Having said that, Banks has come a LONG way since that film. The directing here is much more smooth and streamlined thankfully. The film's aesthetic is very bright, stylish and dynamic. It also has pretty good pacing for almost a 2 hour film. So overall, much better direction from Banks here.
The cinematography/action sequences. This film has a very shiny modern feel and look to it. The locations(Los Angeles, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Istanbul) are all captured very cleanly and clearly. This is in large part thanks to Bill Pope who has frequently collaborated with Edgar Wright on his films. "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" and "Baby Driver" to name a couple. Like those films, Pope imbues the film with a infectious sense of energetic fun. I'm not sure anything else needs to be said. He's wicked good at his job. Its that simple. The film's action scenes are also helmed quite well. There's a nice variety to them between white knuckle car chases, gritty shootouts and blistering fistfights. It kept me interested and invested throughout.
The soundtrack/musical score. Both are really solid. Brian Tyler brings that signature intensity he's used in the "Fast And Furious" franchise to this film with similarly effective results. Also, as I said before, the soundtrack is a pretty infectious bop. Most people will be talking about the "Don't Call Me Angel" headlining track, which is decent, but I actually prefer the film's opening/closing track "How It's Done" much more. It's got a high energy chorus and a nice subtle message about girls being able to do anything they put their heart into. I liked that it didn't beat you over the head with the "Girl-Power" message. A good choice and a nice touch.
In conclusion, I had a much better time with this then I was expecting. It's easily the BEST iteration of these characters, considering the bar was never set that high to begin with. Sure it's cheesy and often lacks logic but I was able to get past those elements. Not all the jokes land and it's ending did feel abrupt. Having said that, there's a few nice mid-credits scenes and I was satisfied with how it all wrapped up. Considering this film is not doing well, box-office wise, it's unlikely that they'll get a sequel out of this. That's a shame cause I honestly wouldn't mind seeing these characters/actors together again in the future. After all Banks wrote, directed, produced and starred in this movie. That's A LOT of time, energy and dedication used to create something from nothing. In any case, I hope more people see this and make their own decision on it rather than using the trailers as their only perspective. With all that said, I'm going to give "Charlie's Angels" 3.5/5 stars.