‘Charlie’s Angels’ Reloaded

 

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) Review 5
Director:McG,
Starring:Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu
Length:103 minutes
Rated:PG-13

 

Once upon a time there were three beautiful actresses who went to Hollywood, and they were assigned the hazardous task of turning an extremely popular television series from the 70’s into a fun, sexy and exciting movie. Little did they realize that production delays, budget over-runs and reports of on-set bickering would turn this into the toughest mission of their careers. By the time the movie opened in the fall of 2000, anxious moviegoers had every reason to believe that this adrenalized chick flick was a box office bomb just waiting to explode.

Well, it just goes to show you that you shouldn’t believe everything you read (or hear), for not only was the movie much better than expected, but it was also a box office sensation that grossed almost $265 million worldwide. Now that these lovely actresses proved that they could deliver the goods, there was every reason to believe that they could do it even better the second time around.

To that extent, mission accomplished! Not only is “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” a tighter, better, more focused sequel that tops the original film in just about every way, but Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu are at the top of their game as Charlie’s sexy, ass-kicking detectives. With so much fun to be had with one movie, one can only hope that there’s a “Charlie’s Angels 3” just waiting in the wings.

Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore) and Alex (Lucy Liu) must face their biggest challenge yet when they go undercover to retrieve two missing rings that contain the names of every person in the Witness Protection Program. When witnesses start turning up dead, the Angels discover that the perpetrator is Madison Lee (Demi Moore), a former Angel who now works for the dark side. Aided by their trusty colleague Bosley (Bernie Mac), the Angels begin an incredible adventure that turns deadly when Dylan confronts a secret from her past.

After overcoming the obstacles that threatened to derail the first film, returning director McG is obviously much more confident with his vision in turning “Charlie’s Angels” into a live-action version of “The Powerpuff Girls.” The former music video director ups the ante from the original movie with even more candy-colored vibrancy, retro-style sass, pop-cultural hipness and a rip-roaring soundtrack that keeps the film moving like a non-stop music video.

The fight scenes in the first film were clearly influenced by “The Matrix,” so it seems appropriate that the aptly titled “Full Throttle” takes them to the next level (think “Charlie’s Angels Reloaded”). There are quite a few edge-of-your-seat action scenes, especially a high-octane dirt bike chase that puts you right in the driver’s seat. The stunts are obviously far-fetched, but that’s the whole point, and the movie’s cartoonish style serves as a constant reminder that this is all in the name of 100% fun.

As with the first film, Cameron Diaz steals the show with her idealistic, charming and incredibly sexy turn as Natalie. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Drew Barrymore, who is equally sexy and a little tougher as the heavy metal-inspired Dylan. Lucy Liu balances out the threesome, but her colder turn as Alex makes her a little too distant to embrace. What’s important though is that they all seem like they’re having a blast, and their good-natured chemistry is what makes the film extremely infectious.

Anyone watching the first movie could tell that Bill Murray didn’t belong there, so it was no surprise when he passed on reprising his role as Bosley. Murray may be out, but in-demand funnyman Bernie Mac is in as his brother (don’t ask), and his more outrageous personality fits the tone of the sequel much better. There are plenty of other returning players as well-not to mention a ton of celebrity cameos-but to reveal who they are would simply spoil the surprise.

Where bad buzz surrounded the first film for months, at least the sequel has some good buzz in its favor-specifically the return of Demi Moore. After taking a six year break from Hollywood (not including 2000’s little-seen indie flick “Passion of Mind”), Moore is back big-time, and at 40, she looks better than ever and could easily pass for someone almost half her age (like her current boyfriend, but hey, we won’t go there!).

If there is any fault to be found with “Full Throttle,” it’s that the filmmakers were clearly having too much fun to take notice of the convolutions with the plot. Then again, the plot becomes almost secondary after a little while, so you just go with it. Thanks to the immeasurable chemistry between Diaz, Barrymore and Liu–not to mention the talented hand of director McG–“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” ends up being the summer equivalent of a cinematic gift from the gods.