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Film / Charlie's Angels (2019)

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"You are in the presence of angels."

Charlie's Angels is a 2019 action comedy film written and directed by Elizabeth Banks, serving as a reboot of the film series of the same name and a continuation of the story of the original TV series, although it utterly overwrites certain aspects of both. It stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, and Banks, with Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, and Noah Centineo in supporting roles.

Scientist Elena Houglin (Scott) has developed a new kind of technology called Callisto, which can remotely provide clean energy. When she and the tech become targets of a mysterious villain, Angels Sabina Wilson (Stewart) and Jane Kano (Balinska) join forces and recruit Elena to become a new Angel and save the world.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Australian Jonny continues to proposition Sabina even after she has beaten him up and expressed nothing but disgust towards him.
  • Accidental Murder: Callisto is established as being capable of causing severe seizures in people if within close range. Elena accidentally kills Ralph the security guard when he gets too close to Callisto and doesn't believe her when she tries to warn him.
  • Adaptational Diversity: The first incarnation of the Angels where all three of them are minorities: Jane is black, Elena is Ambiguously Brown (both Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott are biracial), and Sabina (the only white woman in the trio) is Ambiguously Bi.
  • Affirmative-Action Legacy:
    • Bosley is now a rank for lieutenants in the Townsend Agency, named after Charlie's Number Two John Bosley. The most prominent Bosleys in the movie are a white woman and black man. The other Bosleys in the background include men and women from various ethnicities.
    • The new "Charlie" is a woman who uses a voice-changer from her computer to sound like the original (male) Charlie.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Angels' first encounter with Hodak culminates in a Car Chase. When Jane asks Bosley for the big guns, she pulls out a TAR-21 assault rifle. Hodak counters with a dashboard-mounted minigun.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Sabina is seen to flirt with men and women but it's unclear if her attraction to men is in fact genuine or merely pragmatic. Her saying that her seduction of Johnny in the opening scene was the worst date of her life suggests the latter, and she only seems to notice hot women.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Elena's ethnicity is not stated, though she's clearly a person of color (Naomi Scott's Anglo-Indian).
  • Artistic License – Biology: Although electromagnetic fields can be used to affect certain parts of the brain, an EMP on the scale that Callisto can unleash wouldn't have any noticeable effect on the human body.
  • Arc Words: "Send Love" or variations on it are used as call-signs among Townsend Agents and their clients.
  • Asshole Victim: Only one sympathetic person (Edgar "Bosley" Dessange) dies in the course of the film. Everyone else is a sexist Jerkass or a Mook. However, even some of those deaths are treated somberly – being a jerk doesn't mean you deserve to be murdered, and it's normal to feel bad when someone you spent a lot of time with dies, even if they were a jerk.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Sabina is very easily distracted by pretty girls, dogs, etc.
  • Badass Boast: Jane to Hodak during the Final Battle:
    "You have seven moves, and I know them all."
  • Bathroom Search Excuse: When they spot a security guard while infiltrating Alexander's party, Sabina pretends to be a lost partygoer looking for the bathroom to distract the man; while his guard is down, Jane attacks him and knocks him out.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Edgar "Bosley" Dessange, who's black, is the first of the cast to die.
  • Blatant Lies: After Sabina is seriously injured in an explosion, Jane breaks down crying at her bedside. When the unconscious Sabina wakes up and asks why she's crying, she immediately denies that she is while tears are obviously streaming down her face. She's immediately called out on it.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: John Bosley is the Big Bad, with Hodak serving as The Dragon. Alexander Brock is working with them, but he is more of a Big Bad Wannabe since Bosley and Hodak turn on him.
  • The Big Guy: Jane, who is the best fighter of the three Angels and also the tallest.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Hodak kills Fleming.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Big Bad is a mole in the Townsend Institute and a Bosley.
  • The Cameo: Jaclyn Smith once again cameos as Kelly Garrett from the original series. Danica Patrick, Ronda Rousey, and Laverne Cox show up during the credits to train Elena. Hailee Steinfeld, Lili Reinhart, Chloe Kim, and Aly Raisman appear as fellow recruits. Michael Strahan can also be seen as a Bosley.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Zig-zagged. At first, Elena is a loose end to be taken care of; however, when it becomes clear that no one else can activate Callisto, she becomes much more valuable alive.
  • Chekhov's Army: Several of the female extras turn out to be Angels.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ingrid, Flemming's Sassy Secretary, is actually a mole and one of the Angels.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • John Bosley is shown in pictures with the TV show's and previous film series' Angels in place of David Doyle, Bill Murray and even Bernie Mac.
    • The fact that John Bosley is called John (and his designation of "Bosley 001") refers to him as the first Bosley.
    • When the Angels are discussing the idea of Rebekah Bossley going rogue, it’s mentioned that Angels have gone rogue before, referencing Full Throttle.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Sabina is a massive snarker and kind of a goofball, yet can dish out as much punishment as any of the other Angels.
  • Disney Villain Death: Jane throws Hodak off the balcony at the party and he is impaled on a glass or ice figure.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Sabina's go-to tactic but she's not immune to it herself.
  • Dumb Blonde: Sabina invokes this trope as seen in previous installments of the franchise. She's not stupid but she comes across as easily distractable and rather goofy. Her athletic abilities, androgynous presentation and tendency to flirt with other women combine this trope with Dumb Jock.
  • Elite Mook: Quite a few of the villains' henchmen are capable of putting up a good fight against the Angels.
  • EMP: The Callisto technology Elena helped develop has a programming flaw that can be exploited to turn the device into an EMP grenade that, somehow, can trigger fatal strokes in anyone near them.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • A rather strange one, when Brok says, "You hid a person in my Louis XIV [cabinet]? What. Is wrong with you?"
    • A more traditional example is Fleming, who is perfectly fine selling Callisto to shady figures who will use it to kill people, but balks when told to pick someone to kill with it.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": All lieutenants in the Townsend Institute are called "Bosley," even when speaking to each other.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Rebekah attempts to make a dramatic speech to John about how he thought he was the reason behind the Angels' continued existence after Charlie's death when really it's the other way around, only for Sabina to punch John to the ground before Rebekah can finish.
  • A Father to His Men: Two prominent Bosleys, Edgar and Rebekah. They tend to show parental affections to the Angels throughout their respective scenes.
  • Female Gaze: The film takes full advantage of Kristen Stewart's status as a sex symbol for queer women. The first trailer leaned very heavily into this fanservice potential, particularly one rather infamous closeup shot of her butt in tight riding pants that wasn't even used in the final film.
  • Given Name Reveal: Each Bosley has their given name revealed throughout the story: Edgar, Rebekah, and John.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Hodak is the cruel assassin hired by John Bosley to help the latter achieve the energy saver turned weapon Callisto. Hodak targets and tries to kill future Angel Elena Houghlin and kills Angel Jane Kano's mentor Edgar "Bosley" Dessange instead. Unlike the Thin Man who is very suave and mostly composed, Hodak, while also chilling calm, is nothing but a sadistic and cold blunt instrument.
    • Peter Flemming is Elena's greedy and sexist supervisor who intends to sell Callisto to Bosley despite hearing how dangerous it is and shuts Elena down on warning about how dangerous it is given the flaw that makes it a biological weapon. Flemming also goes along with Hodak targeting Elena to get her out of the way. By the end of the day, Flemming has no idea how to work the device and ends up killed as nothing but a useless pawn.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Johnny Australia sells the villains out to the Angels at the end of the film.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Elena accidentally tranquilizes herself when she tries to use the tranquilizing breath mints on a mook.
  • Hollywood Law: Brok's corporate security forces in his Hamburg facility carry handguns. Given Germany's very restrictive gun laws, it's unlikely that a privately owned company like his would've been given permission to arm its personnel in real life.
  • I Know Kung-Faux: Subverted. Elena asserting she knows Krav Maga is set up as this, but although she clearly lacks battlefield experience, she actually proves capable.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Brok seems at least disturbed that John intends to turn Callisto into EMP weapons. Unfortunately his conscience isn't big enough to trigger a Heel–Face Turn and he ends up doing nothing for either the heroes or villains before getting arrested himself. In contrast, Jonny sells the villains out to the Angels and is seemingly allowed to escape justice because of this last-minute Heel–Face Turn despite his previous crimes.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Hodak dies after Jane throws him over a balcony and he lands on the sharp end of an ice sculpture.
  • Instant Sedation: The "Altoid" tranquilizers work through the skin and knock people out in just a second or two.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Jane swears vengeance on the assassin, Hodak, after he kills her mentor Bosley, and her final fight is with him.
  • Jerkass: Johnny Australia, Fleming and Rolf. All are sexist egotists.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Sabina. Her Establishing Character Moment after seducing and fooling Jonny in the opening scene includes her calling him out for stealing money from women and children.
    • Ingrid, Flemming's Sassy Secretary who seemingly likes to antagonize Elena in the beginning, is actually a mole and one of the Angels. She gives Elena a friendly wink after they defeated John and his men in the climax.
  • The Lad-ette: Sabina embodies this trope, with her boyish short hair, potty mouth, fairly masculine clothing while not on the job (undercover she dolls it up when required) and cheerful, frat boy-like personality. It's also implied she's lesbian or bisexual, as she flirts often with women and gets distracted when attractive ones are nearby.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Sabina. Later, Elena picks up her habit of repeating "shit, shit, shit" when things go wrong.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The name "Bosley" is now given to the head of each of the Townsend Agency's various branch offices.
    • Near the end of the film, it's offhandedly mentioned that the original Charlie died at some point in the past, thereby disposing of a beloved central character as a mere afterthought, with the new head of the agency appropriating his name.
  • Love at First Punch: Sabina deals out a humiliating beat-down to Australian Johnny at the start of the film. He ends up infatuated with her for the duration of the film, to her ongoing annoyance.
  • MacGuffin: The Callisto devices. The villains want to turn them into untraceable weapons while the heroes seek to prevent this.
  • MacGyvering: Jane creates a smoke bomb from lab equipment at one point to escape a building while chased by local security forces.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When Edgar "Bosley" Dessange is shot square in the neck, he merely touches the wound with a surprised look on his face and even continues to drive his car for a bit before collapsing.
  • Male Gaze: Exploited. The first scene is shot from the POV of the sexist villain, which involves focused shots on Kristen Stewart's face and body, so both he and the audience are surprised when she starts beating him up.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Edgar Bosley is Jane's mentor and his death causes her to desire vengeance on the assassin who murdered him.
  • Ms. Fanservice: All three of the angels are beautiful but Sabina is by far the most sexualized. She's an interesting example of this trope in that she's clearly designed to be desirable to women as well as men. On the other hand, Jane is an Amazonian Beauty variant for this trope as her scenes tend to show her amazingly fit body. She is a former MI6 agent, after all.
  • The Mole: John Bosley is one for Brok Industries.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: In the past, Sabina told Jane that she was an heiress with an Idle Rich vibe who was Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life before Charlie recruited and trained her to be an Angel. But in the present, Sabina tells Elena that she was a poor and homeless girl before Charlie recruited her. It's possible that both might have been true, to some extent.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Whatever Sabina's background is, she's implied to have had problems before (and has been arrested in the past, given how she shows up in a database search) and is grateful to the Angels for giving her a better path to follow.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Sabina had a gunfight at her wedding, apparently with the person she was marrying:
    Jane: I didn't know you were married.
    Sabina: I'm not. I was the better shot.
    • Whatever happened between Jane and Fatima was the one who caused her to quit MI6.
  • Plausible Deniability: Brok name-drops the trope as the reason why he doesn't want to be told what exactly his henchmen have been up to while carrying out the vague orders he gave them.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Bosley makes a reference which causes a cascade of this throughout the whole group.
    Sabina: Wait, why would Bosley want to take Elena to Brok?
    Bosley: [shrugs] Bringing the Birdman back to Alcatraz, I guess.
    [Jane looks confused.]
    Saint: ... The who?
    Bosley: It's a movie. Burt Lancaster.
    Sabina: Birdman... [firmly] Michael Keaton.
    Bosley: Michael Keaton is Batman.
    Saint: [puzzled] Ben Affleck is Batman.
    Bosley: I mean, is he?
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: At the climax, Bosley turns the Angels' Trust Password into one right before triggering their sting at Brok's party:
    "Send the love."
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Brok has a little bit of this after his true nature is revealed.
  • Red Herring: It's made to look like Rebekah Bosley is the Big Bad. The real traitorous Bosley is John. So I guess it’s a case of right idea wrong Bosley.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Averted. Fleming is killed, not because he is a traitor, but because the Callisto buyer insists on a demonstration of its abilities and he doesn't know enough about the tech to make it work.
  • Samus Is a Girl: While we never see her face, it's revealed that the new "Charlie" is a woman using a computer program to sound like a man.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Langston, the sexy nerd that Jane flirts with.
  • Science Hero: Elena isn't much of a fighter, but her skills as an engineer and programmer come in handy time and again.
  • Shout-Out: The Big Bad being a character from the original show who has made a Face–Heel Turn brings to mind Jim Phelps from another famous action franchise based on a TV show, Mission: Impossible.
  • Sissy Villain: Brok is a straight but hilariously ineffectual villain, freaking out at the mere mention of violence and losing his shit even more when forced to witness actual combat. It's hardly surprising when the real bad guys wrest control away from him without any effort.
  • Stealing the Credit: Fleming has a habit of taking the credit for the work of Elena and others. This ends up getting him killed when he's put on the spot to give a demonstration of Callisto and tries to beg it off, claiming he doesn't want to get his hands dirty. Realizing the guy has no clue how it works, Hodak shoots him. Elena later lampshades how Fleming always wanted folks to think he knew more than he did.
  • The Stinger: Multiple scenes are shown during the end-titles sequence and the scrolling credits.
  • Take That!: Regarding Ben Affleck as Batman, Rebekah responds with "I mean, is he?"
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • A good description of Fleming in the end, as he stole Calisto to sell it on the black market when he didn't actually know how to work it himself.
    • Elena pokes fun at how Brok honestly thought he was in control of his plot involving Calisto and how he doesn't grasp Bosley is going to rob him.
  • Trust Password: The phrase "Charlie sends love" is used by Angels and Bosleys to identify each other as friendly.
  • The Voiceless: Hodak, the assassin, who doesn't speak. He speaks exactly one time, to call Jane a "bitch."
  • We Need a Distraction: Sabina's primary role on the team is to provide distractions, usually with her sex appeal but not always (one exception is her doing a goofy dance in view of a security camera). Ironically, she is also seen to be easily distracted by cute dogs and beautiful women.