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Charlie's Angels sequel: A wild ride

June 27, 2003 17:34 IST

For all those tired of seeing comicbook heroes either saving the world or destroying it, the newest film in the Charlie's Angels franchise promises a lot. The three daring, sexy creatures -- Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu -- who made Charlie's Angels a huge hit worldwide three years ago are back with a sequel.

After a while the fun, humour, soundtrack and eye-popping action begins to wear out. Everything is in excess here -- semi-nudity, charming smiles and sex-loaded puns.  

The story is flimsier than in the first film but director McGee (aka Joseph McGinty Nichol) ensures the movie moves briskly through its 110-minute run. Given its speed and sweetness, there is no reason why Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle cannot be a crowd-pleaser.

Moviebuffs will have some amusing moments savouring references to a variety of Hollywood movies, including Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark and Mel Brooks' The Producers . But many jokes seem laboured, and some in the audience may think only someone like Brooks could have made them awfully vulgar and workable.

The Angels are after a plot to break a code that will reveal the identity of people who are in the federal witness protection programme. The three women are also involved in subplots connected to their past. 

The subplots derail the film at times but McG swiftly gets it back on its breezy track.

From the opening sequence set in Mongolia involving a helicopter and truck, McG makes sure there is not a moment the audience is not overwhelmed -- with semi-nudity, music and stunts.

Among the subplots, the more serious one involves Dylan (a winsome Barrymore) being targeted by a vicious killer (an effective Justin Theroux), connected to her past.  He is also after the man who turned him in and is now in a witness protection programme.

Diaz, the goofy angel, has to manage her home front. Her relationship with her boyfriend (Luke Wilson) worries Dylan a bit. She doesn't want her butt-kicking Angel to be domesticated.

Diaz is amusing in many scenes, and the chemistry between her and Wilson (who played the Bjorn Borgish tennis player in Wes Anderson's funny The Royal Tenenbaums and who now stars in Alex & Emma) is rather good. But Diaz, who was paid an eye-popping $20 million for this film, is fast acquiring mannerisms.

Much is expected from Demi Moore, who returns to films after personal problems and the poor run of her last release GI Jane four years ago. As the fallen evil Angel Madison Lee, she struggles to create a steely presence. There are moments you think she is too self-conscious. Former hubby Bruce Willis has a cameo role in the film. 

The three glamorous Angels play a number of parts, including welders, strippers and nuns. But the script never really builds up convincing reasons for their wild journey. The first time, it wasn't difficult to ignore the movie's inanities. Now -- at least for someone like me -- it becomes quite a challenge.

The new Angels may rule the box-office for couple of weeks, but there are many challenging contenders for that slot ahead.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle releases in India July 4.

Arthur J Pais