You could be forgiven for looking at your local cinema listings and not knowing it was 2019. The reboot is the current theme of choice in Hollywood, and despite potential audience fatigue, it shows no sign of going away any time soon. Supposedly new and improved, everything from Disney classics (The Lion King, Aladdin) to sci-fi series (Men in Black) are back on the big screen, and next to get the refresher treatment is female-led action-comedy franchise Charlie’s Angels.
Returning to cinemas after a 16-year absence, Charlie’s Angels originally debuted as a TV series in the 1970s. The Angels moved to the big screen for two films in the early 2000s, and an updated TV series launched in 2011 – but it ran for just four episodes on ABC before it was cancelled due to low ratings.
Unperturbed by the franchise’s recent faring, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) signed on to give it a much-needed update as writer, director and producer. Though a continuation of the 70s and early 00s narratives, Banks was determined to ensure that her update was appropriate for 2019, explaining to Entertainment Weekly that positive representation of women lies at the heart of the film: ‘It was important to me to make a movie about women working together and supporting each other, and not make a movie about their romantic entanglements or their mother they don’t call enough. When I’m at work, I don’t talk about those things. I get on with my job. It felt important to do that for the Angels, to treat them with the respect their skill set demands.’
Banks’ Angels are at the top of their game and get the job done. They’re a badass team of outspoken, adept agents with enviable skillsets, comprised of the resourceful master of disguise Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart, Twilight series), former MI6 agent Jane Kano (Ella Balinska, The Athena), and MIT-trained scientist Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott, Aladdin).
The first trailer shows the Angels fighting, blowing stuff up, and donning an impressive number of wigs to prevent a dangerous new technology from falling into the wrong hands and being weaponised – all aided by the endless resources of the Townsend Agency, which has developed into an elite, all-female spy organisation with branches across the globe.
Previous Angel liaison and assistant of the eponymous Charlie, the character of Bosley is now a named rank within the Agency, with various Bosleys posted around the world to assist teams of Angels with their missions. Banks herself is stepping out from behind the camera to take on one of the roles alongside Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Captain Marvel) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men series).
The film’s impressive cast, plus the likes of cinematographer Bill Pope (Matrix trilogy) and composer Brian Tyler (The Expendables, Iron Man 3), all suggest we’re in for a lot of fun. With a goal of bringing the franchise up to 2019 standards, Banks’ update has a lot to live up to – but given that her directorial debut Pitch Perfect 2 broke records for a first-time director’s opening weekend, she probably doesn’t need to worry. The world sorely needs more female-led, female-directed action, and Charlie’s Angels looks set to answer the call.