In yet another rehash of the classic television series, Charlie's Angels appears to be all bark and little bite; it's held together by various fight and chase scenes in order to drown out the unbearable commentary. There are good intentions in the latest "Angels" installment, but director Elizabeth Banks just doesn't haven't enough to work with. Accompanied by questionable acting and an awful script, Banks is constantly directing at a disadvantage. In many cases she could be forgiven, as the scene-by-scene progression and layout are actually pleasing. Unfortunately, Banks authored the screenplay as well, and she became a victim of her own crime. One is hard-pressed to find much of any substance to this film; hollow relationships, an awkward plot, and cryptic storytelling are its major downfalls. Even after all its flaws, Charlie's Angels makes an effort to come together in the last twenty minutes, but it is just not enough to redeem this slog of a reboot.
Jumping right into the action, veteran Angels, Sabina (Kristen Stewart) and Jane (Ella Balinska), are tasked with investigating a dangerous clean energy device-turned-weapon. The systems engineer who created this volatile technology, Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), decides to blow the whistle on her company, making the associated dangers of the device public. When things don't go according to plan, it is up to Bosley (Banks) and the Angels to track down the weapon. With a little help from new recruit Elena, and a watchful eye from recent retiree John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), the team sets out on their mission.
The problem with this film is that even though it hits the ground running, it never actually builds around the characters or plot. The story seems to be purposely cryptic, but without providing intrigue. When everything belatedly falls in place during the final act, the film truly does become enjoyable, but it also sheds light on its wasted potential. The acting is inconsistent, as Balinska and Scott do well with what they are given, yet Stewart struggles to convince in even the simplest of scenes. When the action gets going, "Angels" actually performs pretty well, as fight scenes are well choreographed and entertaining. Each Angel has her individual specialty, and watching them come together in the midst of all the action provides much-needed enjoyment to a film otherwise lacking.
Charlie's Angels will leave viewers wondering what could have been, and ultimately, disappointed. It's a conflicting overall performance by Banks, as she balances the direction, writing, and a starring role. An impressive workload to be sure, Banks may have taken on too much, and the story suffers as a result. Although it is not for everyone, there are definitely pockets of fun littered throughout. The convoluted story and odd pacing may be a turn off for some, but others will enjoy the scattered action and witty banter among the Angels. In the end, Charlie's Angels does not try to be something that it is not, and audiences will know exactly what they are getting into. The film's dedication to popcorn cinema is admirable, but the fractured dialog and underwhelming plot fundamentally hurt the experience.