Why Charlie’s Angels Flopped

Title Card - Charlie’s Angels (2019)
57.32% (1)

While we liked Charlie’s Angels and could foresee a franchise, let’s be real – it isn’t likely to happen now. Here’s why it probably bombed.


Charlie’s Angels (2019) – Review, Summary (with Spoilers)

It Doesn’t Have A Box Office Star Who Built A Career Off Original Movies

The biggest star of this movie is Kristen Stewart, and I’d submit like Naomi Scott, the success of her career was either more so due to co-stars, or the property, than her. For example, as big as the Twilight series was, as well as Snow White & The Huntsman, that was due to Twilight being a HUGE book franchise and Charlize Theron – one of the most consistent action movie, and fantasy movie heroines, besides Angelina Jolie. Hence why, since 2012, without either a big name book or actor working alongside her, she hasn’t repeated that success.

Now, this isn’t to say she hasn’t had good movies. Camp X-Ray, Anesthesia, and American Ultra are quality movies, which I think are worth watching, especially since they tap into her comfort zone as an actor. However, outside of American Ultra, they barely made a million dollars[1] , and since that film, she has mainly been in indie movies that didn’t find their way towards becoming breakout hits.

And this issue also lives on with Naomi Scott. Like Stewart, she hasn’t had a role that had her carry a film to success. Also, she has relied on already established properties in which, to be honest, she didn’t have to be cast for it to be a hit. So whether we’re talking about Power Rangers or Aladdin, Scott may have the look, and comes off sweet, humble, and marketable in interviews, but can you really say the success of those films relied on her being in it?

Then with Balinska, this is her first major acting role. She is an unknown in a film where the most prominent name is someone who hasn’t had a true box office hit in 7 years, and someone else who has been lucky enough to have notable franchises in her filmography. So even with Balinska having a background in fighting, what good does that do when no one knows who you are and, in interviews, like Stewart and Scott, while you are marketable, you don’t present that vibe that makes it seem like people have to see you in a movie?

It’s Devoid Of Sex Appeal & Doesn’t Compensate For It

I know this can/may/will come off sexist, mainly due to how many times you’ll see “sex” noted below, but let’s be honest: When it comes to the Charlie’s Angels franchise, it is partly built off sex appeal. It sold girl power alongside it, but let’s not forget the outfits of the Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore movies were a bit naughty, as were the looks of the two television series. Granted, they did try to spin it so that the ladies were still in power, and made things cheeky more than explicit, but that doesn’t make sex, or a sense of sensuality, any less part of the sell.

The new Charlie’s Angels avoids that. When it comes to sex appeal, you may get that in the Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Lana Del Ray music video, but the film has an aversion to sensuality. At best, you can say the beginning of the film has a touch of it when Stewart is trying to seduce a mark, but it’s rather tame and probably the rare, if only example. That’s compared to the Lucy Liu leather outfit, among other situations, which still are circulated online to this day and has made not just an iconic scene, but push the movie to be considered a classic.

But, perhaps the bigger issue is that the film didn’t compensate its lack of sex appeal with consistently hitting jokes or the kind of action which would make a person flinch. Instead, while the film has funny moments, they are few and far between, and they don’t hit hard. Plus, most of them rely on Stewart’s sarcasm, and, let’s be real, Kristen Stewart, like so many actors, has a shtick. Like comedic actors, she has this way of taking on roles that, even when she pushes herself, like in this or Café Society, it is still Kristen Stewart. So while fans may get a giggle out of her, it isn’t so great a change to her persona that she could bring in those who don’t know her, are on the fence, or even don’t like her.

by the standards of this era, things are far too tame, and really would only be suitable decades ago.

Though the biggest issue has to be the action. Now, granted, the possibility of this being rated R to show bullets, blood, the sound of broken bones, and things like that was highly unlikely. However, having a Charlize Theron level type of action movie could have saved this film. Yet, instead, the person well trained in fighting has some of the weakest fight scenes, and the person who got trained just for this movie, Stewart, has the best. Making it so, by the standards of this era, things are far too tame, and really would only be suitable decades ago.

Lack Of Demand

For goodness sake, when they tried to revive the television show in 2011 it flopped so hard that ABC didn’t even air the complete season, so what led to the idea a new movie should have happened? Heck, considering how many rejected the idea of James Bond not becoming a woman, why not start a brand new franchise with an original name?

Oh, I forgot, Hollywood thinks franchises with past success, even if that was more than a decade ago, can return to prominence and become hits again. Yeah, that’s not true. On top of the competition for money, there is the competition for attention, and what is attention-grabbing about Charlie’s Angels? What about this iteration doesn’t push you to think “I’ll wait for its home release,” as part of Netflix, HBO, or what have you? When it comes to the 2019 version, what pushes you to get to your local theater, buy or hide food, and deal with people who could possibly lessen the experience of watching the film? Never mind you have three actors who don’t have the anchor of a major A-List star to play off of.

I mean, come on.

Also, in terms of Charlie’s Angels, while fans know it is a smart, sometimes cheeky, spy drama, it isn’t like Charlie’s Angels is as illustrious as Spiderman, which directors/ writer Elizabeth Banks mentions when fielding criticism of this film. First and foremost, Spiderman is an icon in ways Charlie’s Angels isn’t and probably could never be. It is one of Marvel’s biggest properties, and that’s saying something considering how immense their collection of characters are.

Also, Spiderman can appeal to children, teenagers, and adults, as well as men and women equally. Charlie’s Angels sells itself by showing women working together and girl power, but was never a major force in the action category. Hence why sex appeal played a role in past iterations, for it gave it the means to tap into those men who either expect women to be on the level of Ellen Ripley in Alien or to look like the love interest to the generic action hero. In the past, Charlie’s Angels tried to have the best of both worlds, and this film didn’t try to push that at all.

It Only Focused On Certain Aspects Of What Charlie’s Angels Is Known For

If anything, what the 2019 version seemingly wanted was to keep the recognizable names of “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Townsend Agency” and “Bosley,” but rewrite the new iteration in a revisionist way. Making it so, like with how it disregarded Bernie Mac or Bill Murray playing Bosley, it ignored that, unfortunately, Charlie’s Angels relies on sex appeal. Which isn’t to downplay it traditionally having badass women who are equal opportunity ass whoopers, and who show multiple intelligences, be it social, scientific, and etc. It’s just, by not having a sense of sex appeal, and trying to be more woke, modern, perhaps feminist, it seemed to not fully recognize all that needed to come together for this to be a success.

I mean, just in the makeup of the leads, in most teams, each person plays a role, and that allows for a sense of diversity. The 2019 version doesn’t necessarily have that.

Balinska’s Jane can come off as the serious one, but she is less “I will f*** you up” and more aloof model walking a runway. Stewart, as Sabina, is fun, but not necessarily flirty, and they don’t even play up Sabina being queer beyond one or two comments. Then with Scott’s Elena, yeah she is a fish out of water, but she doesn’t come off like your everyday girl since she is an MIT grad who looks as modelesque as the rest. Which isn’t to imply you can’t be smart and beautiful, but having everyone look like the only thing they’d have to be insecure about is having something in their teeth doesn’t necessarily help things.

Then, as spies, we don’t really see them do much in the way of disguising themselves or espionage in such a way that can be considered funny or crafty. More so, the focus is gunfights, chases, and hand to hand combat. All of which, again, isn’t made to come off brutal, even considering how one character dies, and taking note of how the film hunches over collateral damage, it pushes you to feel as indifferent as the characters.

Overall

So, to add everything up, we don’t have actors who are box office players. On top of that, none of the actors, in interviews, seem to really love the marketing aspect and know how to present themselves as someone you should go pay to see.

Oh, and before we forget, we have a property which, as part of its formula, used sex appeal and the new film didn’t want to sell that what so ever. Instead, it has lukewarm action sequences and comedic dialog, which could be hit and miss, and very few memorable scenes.

the reason Charlie’s Angels flopped is because, like so many attempted revivals, it seems in someone trying to put their own spin, maybe modernize a franchise, they completely forgot what originally made it a hit.

Yeah, the reason Charlie’s Angels flopped is because, like so many attempted revivals, it seems in someone trying to put their own spin, maybe modernize a franchise, they completely forgot what originally made it a hit. Thus, by refusing to recognize what needed to be updated and what comes with a specific franchise, there was an inability to repeat past success.

[1] https://www.the-numbers.com/person/137280401-Kristen-Stewart#tab=acting

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I stumbled across this while checking out “The Good Doctor” review. Very interesting article!! I read an article with almost the exact same title on Variety’s website, but your article was much more detailed and gave more reasons why the movie flopped. It made the other article look lame and like the author had rushed to get it written and posted by comparison!

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