Good news, movie fans: If you’ve ever wanted to see Kristen Stewart as a slightly randy, very random, butt-kicking international dirtbag of mystery, you’re in luck. Even if you never knew you wanted that, you’re still in luck, because that is exactly what Elizabeth Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels” delivers. And it’s a treat.
Swinging a seemingly Bill Murray-inspired rapscallion ‘tude, Stewart is not only pretty darn great at it, but she appears to be having a ball, too. For whatever else you think of Banks’ “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, we have her to thank for this rather ingenious and refreshing comedic turn from K-Stew.
With the help of co-writers Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn, Banks has dusted off the lady spy franchise that was once a cheesy ’70s sitcom, and of course, a McG-directed blockbuster from 2000. They’ve given it an empowering update, full of therapy-sanctioned self-acceptance language and social- justice-oriented clients, but the formula remains the same: babes kicking butt.
In this crew, guided by a cabal of international “Bosleys” (Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou), we have Stewart’s sexy and chaotic Sabina, a Park Avenue princess and former juvenile delinquent, never without a non-sequitur, often clad in many shiny sequins. She’s paired with the incredible former MI-6 agent Jane (Ella Balinska), the muscle of the operation and the Felix to Sabina’s Oscar in this odd-couple matchup. The trio is completed when they fold corporate whistleblower and software engineer/hacker Elena (Naomi Scott) into their group and hit the road, on the hunt for (you guessed it) a world-ending do-hickey. It’s an energy-generating device developed by Elena that can also blow up and give people strokes. And it’s being sold to the highest bidder, somewhere in Turkey.
Banks’ directing is sturdy, serviceable and at times a bit unwieldy. But most importantly, she pitches the pace perfectly. Nothing ever lags, but she lets the movie breathe, allowing character to come through, for moments of oddball humor to land, and for relationships to build between the three women. Stewart and Balinska have an infectious chemistry, while Scott demonstrates her skill for screwball comedy.
“Charlie’s Angels” isn’t rocket science, but thanks to a charm offensive of stars, it’s an easy, breezy blast of an action flick that delivers as many laughs as it does roundhouse kicks.
★★★ “Charlie’s Angels,” with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Elizabeth Banks, Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou. Written and directed by Elizabeth Banks, from a story by Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 for action/violence, language and some suggestive material. Opens Nov. 15 at multiple theaters.