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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) Print E-mail
Friday, 27 June 2003
“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” follows friskily in the wake of its 2000 predecessor, which was in turn based on the hit ‘70s TV series about three improbably gorgeous women crime-fighters who work for Charlie, a billionaire boss who’s so mysterious that his “angels” never meet him face to face. In the films, the Angels are bubbly Natalie (Cameron Diaz), tomboyish wild child Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and wealthy, brainy Alex (Lucy Liu).

Like the previous bigscreen “Angels,” this one is directed by McG. He stages great stunts and some good sight gags, but somehow he doesn’t ride herd all that well on the various elements in the screenplay by John August and Cormac Wibberly & Marianne Wibberly. The story here includes Dylan’s old mobster boyfriend (Justin Theroux) who’s out for revenge, Alex’s current sometimes boyfriend (Matt LeBlanc), who wants to get back together with her and gives Alex’s father (John Cleese) quite the wrong impression about what she does, Natalie’s boyfriend (Luke Wilson), who’s moving in with her, Dylan’s fears that Natalie will marry and abandon the team, rings with Justice Department secret codes on them – and an ex-Angel (Demi Moore) with her own agenda.

This last aspect is potentially intriguing – and Moore is pretty fabulous in both appearance and authority as the fallen Angel – but “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” seems to be suffering from some odd film form of attention deficit disorder. Nothing ever gets either set up or played out to any extent. We’re given explanations for what we’re about to see and then the scenes play out, but even when we’re told how various plot threads actually connect to one another, everything feels random. It feels a little silly to complain about “Angels” – it fulfills its expectations agreeably – but it seems more like one of those summer girlfriends-having-a-good-time flicks with butt-kicking and explosions thrown in than even a very high-spirited regular action movie.

The leads can’t be faulted. Diaz is particularly funny as the ever-upbeat Natalie, who dances at the drop of a hat and urges her friends to do the same (they have a good time rocking out to M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” during a box-unpacking sequence – see above for summer fun as opposed to regular action). Big setpieces include a dirt-bike competition with impressively insane stunts and good sound (though the digital cinematography looks utterly unfilmlike here) and lots of huge explosions mixed with pop and rock hits that should provide healthy fodder for a home theatre sound system. One complaint: the dialogue recording of Bernie Mac (who plays the foster brother of the first film’s Bosley, played by Bill Murray) is consistently fuzzy and rather difficult to decipher. Also, while this Bosley does sort of resemble some sitcom characters of the ‘70s – network neighbors to “Angels” back in the day – he is also a stereotype that seems meant to be funny simply because he’s a stereotype and not due to any particularly funny material he gets.

It may say something about “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” that it’s hard to say much about the film itself. The women are stunning and cheerful, the stunts are big and exciting, the sound is fine – and it’s hard to remember much of what happened by the time you get home from the theatre. If you want to come out with an agreeable and somewhat hazy memory of watching three great-looking women having fun together, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” comes through. If you want to watch something that actually involves you in its mood or storytelling, you may have to look elsewhere.

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