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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
Director: McG

review by Rob Marshall

A rogue agent is out to steal a pair of rings (a token Tolkien mcguffin), which provide the key to a secret Federal database of new identities created under the US witness protection programme. A top government official (well, Robert Forster on a big TV screen, at least) hires the lovely ladies of Charles Townsend's detective parlour - to find said rings and return them to the Department of Justice. This mission involves our heroines in chasing villains, catching or killing the mastermind behind a plot to auction classified info to underworld villains, fighting muscle-bound thugs, and undercover work as surfers, scientists, scramblers, strippers, and schoolgirls. Thankfully, Natalie, Dylan and Alex have unlimited wardrobe allowances, and no office dress code to worry about, so they can change their clothes every five minutes...
    So here we go again with Charlie's Angels 2 and, unfortunately, the producers have cast the same trio (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu) as the first adventure, and failed to make best use of the now-trademarked Angels' franchise potential by allowing the mediocre and overly populist McG to reclaim the director's chair. With an exaggeratedly studied wink and a passionless leer, he helms this ramshackle and frequently third-rate, second outing with all the visual imagination and artistic flair of a touring circus ringmaster, as if promoted to that position at a rundown carnival of errors from the shabby ranks of dung shovellers. There are three credited screenwriters, and three producers, but none of them should be blamed for wasting so much Hollywood money on such a terminally dull travesty as this. The combination of inexcusably dumb sitcom routines, intolerably cheesy innuendo (that makes Austin Powers seem like high culture), hectically paced and absurdly fake digital effects, and lots of broadly cartoon stunts for these cartoon broads, conspire to deprive audiences of viewing pleasure (guilty or otherwise). The trio of smug main characters retain those same damnably irritating, reality-compromising traits of naiveté and omni-competence as before, and every off-kilter gimmick or wholly incomprehensible plot device is delivered without subtlety, respect for logic or a moment's intelligent thought. It's all thick icing without any cake, again.
   We may recognise ideas and assets stripped at random from other, usually superior, productions to be recycled (or simply replayed for laughs) here with nothing of any particular value added, as the incalculably witless director fields a smorgasbord of cinematic and small screen references, from The Blues Brothers, TV cop show C.S.I, Scorsese's Cape Fear, Last Action Hero, and Grosse Pointe Blank, ad infinitum. Sadly for all concerned, McG isn't capable of differentiating between admirable homage and gratuitous spoof, so the cumulative affect of all this filmic suggestion-box raiding diminishes the vehicular Full Throttle to a non-starter. Demi Moore is the most welcome guest star. There are also cameos from big names like Bruce Willis, Carrie Fisher, Robert Patrick, and Jaclyn Smith (who loyally played Kelly in the Charlie's Angels TV show till the very end), but none of these are given enough to do here beyond performing the distinctly unfunny functions of being Hollywood celebrity in-jokes. As the ex-Angel turned devil-woman, Moore struggles to cope with almost zero characterisation, and although she's lost in the sketch mêlée and empty spectacle as second fiddle to a constant spew of asinine one-liners, she plays her two-gun baddie role with a vengeance, and it's to her credit that Madison is a plausible (in the pulp fictional comicbook terms of a James Bond or Batman supervillain, anyway) and threatening adversary for the three-heroine team.
   The Region 2 DVD release offers anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen presentation with Dolby digital 5.1 sound and English subtitles. Disc extras include two commentaries and a trivia track, bundled with a host of little five-minute featurettes on Pussycat Dolls choreography, stunts and fighting, the cars and dirt bikes, costumes, production design (such as it is), jukebox soundtrack, and a music video.
Charlie's Angels 2

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