Good lord! Who needs coffee now that we have a new "Charlie's
After rescuing a U.S. Marshal (Robert Patrick) from deep in the heart
of Mongolia, the Angels, sweet Natalie (Cameron Diaz), crafty Alex
(Lucy Liu) and dangerous Dylan (Drew Barrymore), have returned to
their California offices to break in the new Bosley (Bernie Mac, a
nice replacement for the absent Bill Murray). Trouble boils over when
an Irish gangster, and previous flame of Dylan's, is released from
prison (Justin Theroux, "Mulholland Drive") looking for revenge.
Concurrently, a former "fallen" Angel named Madison Lee (Demi Moore)
attempts to organize an operation that will bring her two titanium
rings that hold the info of every person held under the federal
witness protection program. And with that crucial information comes
the opportunity to kill them off, one by one.
The original "Charlie's Angels," released back in 2000, was much more
than an unexpected smash at the box office; it was a film that held
alarming quality for such a popcorn romp. I went into the picture back
then with arms folded, expecting that disappointment was a feeling I
would have in spades. However, as soon as Crispin Glover's "Creepy
Thin Man" character (a role he recreates for the sequel) cart-wheeled
through a narrow gap between closed iron gates, and Prodigy's "Smack
My Bitch Up" began to blare on the soundtrack, my senses came alive.
For the next 90 minutes, I was completely taken by director
McG's frenzied vision and the three lead actresses who looked as though
they were having the time of their lives. I simply adored "Charlie's
Angels," and I hoped McG wasn't going to ruin the fun with an
indulgent sequel. All he had to do was focus on the features that
made the original such a welcome kick in the teeth.
In "Full Throttle" (IMDb listing), McG does exactly that. The new film is a raging,
out of control house fire that isn't put out until the last flicker of
celluloid passes through the projector. While other summer films
pretend they're a blast of adrenaline and delight (*cough* "2 Fast 2
Furious" *cough*), "Full Throttle" just is, without breaking a sweat.
McG has learned the formula for these films very quickly, and he brings
on another onslaught of one-liners, swirling asses and the very
latest in fashion and design. He is cocked and loaded to the gills
with more money and an even bigger desire to outdo himself, which for
a former music video director means one thing: extravagance beyond
measure. McG throws every conceivable detail into "Full Throttle,"
whether it's the film's supporting actors and cameos (Luke Wilson and
Matt LeBlanc return, joining John Cleese, Bruce Willis, "Jackass'"
Chris Pontius, Pink, the Olsen twins, and an "Angel" from a past life),
the many film and television parodies or homages ("Cape Fear,"
"Flashdance," "C.S.I."), or the opulence he gives to Los
Angelesgoing so far as to use a Hollywood film premiere as the location for the
film's climax. McG also brings in the hippest in sports to find his
set pieces, including a "Matrixesque" shootout at a motocross track,
and Alex's attempt at street-luging to trail one of bad guys. "Full
Throttle" is an exceedingly busy film, whereas "Angels" was simply
trying on different tones and styles to see what fit. Thankfully, McG
never permits the film to be crushed under its own weight. The picture
is far too swift and lovable for that. Though it cannot repeat the
fortunate element of surprise that "Angels" had in its favor, it does
match the previous film in entertainment value and highly caloric
PG-13 eye candy.
In a weird reversal of tone, McG has taken away the individuality of
the fight scenes and pumped them into the dramatic subplots. Gone are
the pure moments of slap fight ecstasy found in the original, like
Dylan's one-woman symphonic "That's what they call kicking your ass!"
throw down. In "Full Throttle," the action is staged much more
claustrophobically, utilizing more teamwork and emphasizing more CGI and less "wire fu." Because McG is such a breathless
filmmaker, the picture is never held down by its extravagances, and he
balances the fists of fury with an expanded storyline. This go around, McG often breaks up the team to pursue their own
plot threads, which allows each Angel much more character time. The pursuit of a slightly more profound character understanding shows
growth and care within a film that can't be bothered with such things.
"Full Throttle" might not have pivotal fight scenes to define itself
(though Madison's tussle with the Angels on the roof of the Griffith
Park Observatory comes awfully close), but the action is still
marvelous to watch, and McG keeps it all in check with his large sense
of humor and frantic eye.
Boy, if they could find a way to siphon the energy off of Cameron
Diaz's smile, we wouldn't face another energy crisis ever again. While
the "Angels" films feature three leading ladies, it is Diaz and her
endless beaming smile and dork affectation that keep the films alive.
More fun here than any other movie she's done, Diaz is the shining
million-watt bulb within the free-for-all style of "Full Throttle."
Drew Barrymore has the delicious tough chick role down pat, and Lucy
Liu is growing more confident with her comedy, but Diaz is the glowing
center of the trio. Even when McG has her on a men's room toilet
during one scene, she's still the most radiant thing on God's green
Much has been made about Demi Moore's return to the big screen after a
three year absence. Her role is actually quite a bit smaller than
reported, but she eats up the screen nonetheless, with a performance
where she clearly revels in playing bad. Glammed up even more than the
leads, Moore is dazzling to behold. "Full Throttle" is a nice
homecoming for the oft-misused actress.
"Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" ends on a rather peculiar
family-comes-together note that hints aggressively that this might be
it for the Angels and their adventures. I hope that isn't the case.
These films, as glossy and devoid of nutritional value as they might
arguably be, are blisteringly fun to enjoy, and "Full Throttle"
doesn't skip a beat in continuing the Angel party.
Filmfodder Grade: A