Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
Directed by McG

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * *

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Charlie's Angels, a team of private detectives working for a mysterious millionaire, investigate a plot involving a former Angel (Demi Moore) to acquire a pair of rings on which are encoded the identities of every person in the federal government's witness protection program.

Much of what can be said of McG's first Charlie's Angels movie can be said about his second, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, but, although the two are remarkably similar, the sequel is not quite as successful as is its predecessor.

Like the earlier movie, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle consists of a series of set pieces, each of which has its own distinctive look and character. In one, the Angels rescue a prisoner being held in a Mongolia. In another, they participate in a dirt bike rally. In a third, they pose as nuns, and so on. Even if none of these scenarios has the energy or humor of those of the original film, most are genuinely entertaining.

The action sequences, in particular, are somewhat less humorous than are those in the first installment. Nevertheless, despite a few genuinely dark, violent, and suspenseful moments, the movie rarely takes itself too seriously and is frequently tongue in cheek. Many scenes, including several of the action sequences, are, in fact, exaggerated, inventive, and surprisingly funny.

What is more, like the first film, the second revels in its sexuality and is, consequently, always able to tempt the viewer and engage him with its protagonists. Admittedly, as few of the movie's racy jokes are clever and many are forced, its repeated innuendos and light-hearted naughtiness are rarely as enjoyable as such elements were in Charlie's Angels. Nevertheless, the film's joyful sexiness does give it an exuberant, appealing quality.

This sense is greatly helped by the presence of the movie's three leads. Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz all bring an abundance of energy to their roles and imbue the movie with a sense of giddy excitement. Sadly, none of the other performers are as enjoyable to watch. Demi Moore is passable, although she never excels. Crispin Glover, who reprises his role a the Thin Man, endows the character with a weird creepiness, but he is largely wasted, as is John Cleese, who appears as Lucy Liu's father. Bernie Mac, who replaces Bill Murray as Bosley, is generally grating. He brings his usual exaggerated, unfunny style to the role and detracts from the quality of every scene in which he appears.

Unfortunately, the movie has a number of other faults besides those noted above. Some elements of the previous film are, for example, inappropriately introduced into the second either for the sake of continuity or because they were so successful there McG apparently felt he needed to repeat them. The director thus explains Bill Murray's absence as the character Bosley, even though the time used to do so is irrelevant to the remainder of the film and provides nothing but a distraction, and pointlessly inserts The Thin Man, who was so disturbingly captivating to watch in the first movie, without ever using him effectively.

Despite its inferiority to the original film, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is exciting and fun. Although the tongue in cheek elements are not handled as well as they were in the previous work, they still buoy up the movie and make watching it a pleasant experience.

Review by Keith Allen

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