Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…consistently fun dialogue and fight scenes… actual characterisation; it’s worth seeing these angels take flight.
Nostalgia isn’t the audience draw that it once was. With the myriad of retro TV adaptations that have flooded the cinemas over the last decade, and the even more prevalent barrage of Disney remakes, people are starting to see through the cynicism of modest retoolings of media they used to like. Even decent films are falling victim to this, between the surprisingly decent Terminator: Dark Fate and the unsurprisingly solid Doctor Sleep. Whether this spells a market overhaul in 2020 remains to be seen, but at the very least, we get one last really damn good continuation of an old TV show to close this chapter.
For as much as it calls back to the last attempt to bring this franchise to the big screen with McG’s 2000s efforts, this film is far more in-tune with the original series than it is with the work of one of the most inexplicable action directors of the modern era. To paraphrase Jane Caro, those movies are sexual, whereas this film is sexy.
From the solid performances and interplay between the three leads, to Bill Pope’s always-reliable camera work that captures the international glamour of their wedge of the spy trade, to Elizabeth Banks’ multiple duties behind and in-front-of the camera, this replaces male gaze wankery with genuine heart and empowerment.
To that end, for as solid as Naomi “let’s show Guy Ritchie how it’s really done” Scott and the Hollywood debut of Ella Balinska, it’s Kristen Stewart who serves as the chaotic magnet at the film’s core. Stealing every single moment she’s on-screen, right from her stare-down that opens the film proper, she makes for an absolute delight and imbues the film with serious Riot Grrrl energy. The film is worth watching just for her, if only to put the final nail in the coffin of her Twilight days.
But there’s more going on here than the immediately obvious; it also makes for one of the most genuinely feminist blockbusters to make it to screens this year. It’s one of the few in recent memory that doesn’t rely on artificial tension/catfighting antics to keep the main dynamic fresh between the lead trio. It also features a scene of the Angels delivering feminine hygiene products to Istanbul, a rare moment of ‘practice what you preach’ for mainstream girl power. And there’s the expected showings of strawman misogyny which, for as stilted as it gets in places (Nat Faxon’s casting here must be revenge for his involvement in Father Of The Year last year), still rings true to lingering societal views regarding women.
But for those with no interest in the bigger politique, this film is also all kinds of fun. Between Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2) adding another pillar to her refreshing filmmaking style, to the consistently fun dialogue and fight scenes, to the fact that there’s actual characterisation to speak of this time around, it’s worth seeing these angels take flight.