Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle Review

by Harvey S. Karten (harveycritic AT cs DOT com)
June 24th, 2003


Reviewed by: Harvey S. Karten
Grade: B
Columbia Pictures
Directed by: McG
Written by: John August, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bernie Mac, Demi Moore, Luke Wilson, Matt LeBlanc, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick, Shia LaBeouf, John Cleese
Screened at: Loews Lincoln Sq., NYC, 6/23/03

    Who says you have to be an astronaut to experience weightlessness? Certainly not McG, who directs a stunning sequel to the first "Charlie's Angels" picture and definitely not John August, Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley who wrote the screenplay. These angels have no wings, but my-oh- my do they ever fly! Doing Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" more than one or two better in the stunt department, Cameron Diaz as Natalie Cook, Drew Barrymore as Dylan Sanders, and Lucy Liu as Alex Munday survive bullets, free- falls, explosions, and best of all stick together despite the wedding bells that could have broken up that old gang of theirs.
    In a story that glorifies women as smart, athletic, gorgeous and deadly while the men are either slow, vicous or clowns, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" takes us from scene to scene unburdened by fusty conventions of credibility or anything that Isaac Newton thought he knew when that apple fell on his head. No matter that the plot is even thinner than Demi Moore, consisting of the search not for one ring (leave elementary stuff like that to J.R.R. Tolkien) but for two, both needed by the bad guys as a Rosetta Stone to the identities of all who enjoy the government's largesse in the witness protection program. The principal villain, Madison Lee (Demi Moore) is a fallen angel who seeks the two rings which, when put together through a computer will reveal this information which she can then sell to a vindictive band of mafiosi from Japan, Italy and Latin America. While they, predictably enough, find the rings, getting there is all the fun, allowing the make-up and costume people (Kimberly Greene and Charyl Beasley Blackwell respectively) to give the three angels virtually new identities whether their heads are covered with rubber masks or the finely tuned bodies outfitted with dazzling threads that could attract audience attention even on Oscar night.

    The most fun of all is had by by former music-video director and helmer of "Full Throttle," McG, who's had three years to outdo what he achieved in the original frothy pic which featured operatives working for an unseen boss at a detective agency. Unfortunately, there's a deja-vu: this time, as then, the fun begins to pall halfway through, but then again how do you top a stunning, James-Bond style opener honing in on the three beauties who rescue a guy from the clutches of some sinister rogues in Northern Mongolia with six-foot long rapiers and macho to match? Other than that, the dirt-bike race is the winning edge-of-your-seat contest where, as the starter intones, "the only rule is that there are no rules." In the Ben-Hur mayhem that follows, bikers kick one another over the cliffs, even knock out a few rounds of their pistols while riding upside down on their wheels.

    As for chemistry, usually important in romantic dramas and comedies and now a given in spunky action thrillers, you can't beat the combination of Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, none of whom tries to upstage the others although Ms. Diaz, whether performing some hot dances, swooning to the entreaties of her boyfriend Pete (Luke Wilson), or kicking butt, is first among equals.

    Cameron Diaz aside, the cognoscenti will probably be buzzing about Demi Moore, a middle-aged mother back from a few years off from the big ones, who dazzles the crowd the most: a sleek, sharp, Greek-bodied meanie who is believably a match for all three of the angels. This high-budget production gets more energy than it requires from side roles such as Crispin Glover's as The Thin Man, Bernie Mac as the behind-the- scenes helper, and John Cleese as the bewildered dad who thanks to a few of Matt LeBlanc's double entendres as Alex's boyfriend thinks that his daughter, Alex, is naughtier than even an angel has the right to be.

Rated PG-13. 105 minutes.(c) 2003 by Harvey Karten at
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