Review

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Review

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Jun 27, 2003 | 5:42am EDT

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle certainly lives up to its title. With eye-popping visuals and unbelievable stunts the sequel is far more action-packed than its predecessor. This time the fun-lovin' Angels--Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu)--are assigned to retrieve two stolen titanium rings which contain valuable encrypted information revealing the new identities of every person in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Along with their trusted colleague Jimmy Bosley (Bernie Mac) the girls must find the rings before the thief sells the information to the top mob families around the world. The Angels eventually discover the main perpetrator is ex-Angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore) who believed "being part of the Angel family" was a load of crap; she can get it done a lot better on her own. Up to this point the story still has you interested even though there are more than enough tongue-in-cheek gags and general campiness to go around. Things begin to slide southward however as the film frantically tries to tie up the loose ends and the final climactic battle between the good and the fallen Angels drags out.

The true heart of Full Throttle is the unquestionable chemistry between its three lead actresses. Watching Diaz Barrymore and Liu you see how their friendship has deepened. In fact friendship is one of the main themes of the movie and in Dylan's case provides an interesting character arc--played nicely by the underrated Barrymore. Dylan worries that Natalie might leave the agency if she marries Pete (Luke Wilson) and then when forced to deal with a past secret Dylan makes a big sacrifice to save the lives of her best friends. It gives a little extra depth to the otherwise sorority-sister atmosphere. Larger than life is Bernie Mac as the new Bosley who takes on the job after his adopted brother John Bosley (Bill Murray) drops out (the reasoning behind this is really too lame to go into). Having Mac in the house brings the film to a whole new level of comedy as he infuses the silliness going on around him with his own skewed observations. Case in point: Charlie says to him "I hope the Angels aren't being too hard on you " to which Bosley replies "Man I date fat women whatcha talkin' about?" Unfortunately the only weak link is Moore as Madison. Her reasons for going bad just aren't good enough and frankly it seems all Moore is interested in is showing off her tight 40-plus body. Also keep an eye out for a number of well-placed cameos including the amazingly beautiful "former" Angel Jaclyn Smith.

Director McG uses his finely tuned skills as a music video director to milk this sucker for all its worth and turns in a film which is virtual MTV eye candy. Granted most of the action sequences are highly implausible but what James Bond film isn't? You go right along with it. Motorcross surfing burlesque dancing--there isn't anything these Angels can't do and darn it the film sort of makes you want to be an Angel yourself watching those three girls plummet off bridges fly on motorbikes and hang onto out of control cars. Still when does it become too much? The first Charlie's Angels was more grounded relying more on Matrix-esque martial arts fighting and less on wildly outrageous stunts; the story was also more cohesive. It seems this time around McG and star-producer Barrymore wanted to go way over the top and throw anything and everything up on the screen. Pounding soundtrack cameos galore numerous references to other movies such as Flashdance Sweet Charity Cape Fear AND The Sound of Music Full Throttle is just chock full--but although it works to a point the payoff ends up leaving you feeling less than satisfied.

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