You know how every franchise at some point is reputed to get “dark”? Like the way each Harry Potter or Avengers picture would be promised as the one that, seriously, this time, goes really really dark. Except they rarely actually do.
No one will ever say that about any of the “Charlie’s Angels” incarnations. The 1970s TV show was irredeemably silly and the 2000 movie and its sequel were self-consciously goofy. Now, there’s another reboot.
This one is so not dark, people get killed without anybody taking pause. Seemingly likable supporting characters are offed, and we’re encouraged to laugh along with the characters.
The new “Charlie’s Angels” pays homage to the previous incarnations. Hanging on the walls of the offices of the organization that employs female spies are photographs of various former cast members, from Farrah Fawcett to Drew Barrymore. But not Bill Murray, who must have a strict contract.
It feels absurd to recount the plot of this movie, except to say that Angels played by Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska get involved in rescuing a tech developer (Naomi Scott, from the live-action “Aladdin”) who wants whistleblower protection.
Joined by their Bosley (played by Elizabeth Banks, who also directs), the team goes hopscotching across Europe. There are many Bosleys, including ones played by Patrick Stewart and Djimon Hounsou.
Among the bad guys are tech giant Sam Claflin, corporate weasel Nat Faxon, and international man of mystery Chris Pang. It’s not an exciting group, but then “Charlie’s Angels” deliberately goes the low-key route; the movie itself seems bored by its chase scenes and shoot-outs, as though including them by contractual obligation.
Even with that, the whole thing goes down fairly breezily. The main appeal is the central trio, led by a punked-out Stewart, who seems relieved to be taking a break from her very serious run of recent roles.
Scott and Balinska are also fun, and the trick of following a new recruit through the paces of Angel-hood is shrewd. Nothing really gets too crazy, which in a way is disappointing.
The expected scenes of women schooling men are in place, with thankfully nothing as cringeworthy and condescending as the sisterhood attack in “Avengers: Endgame.” The more playful tone prevents that.
One thing doesn’t work, though: those likable (or even unlikable) supporting characters whose deaths get laughed off as “collateral damage.” I like black humor, but this is more like floundering around in search of some edginess — or maybe even a stab at getting dark. Nobody’s going to buy that under these flippant circumstances.
“Charlie’s Angels” (2½ stars)
A reboot for the premise about female spies, with veterans Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska leading new recruit Naomi Scott through the paces. It’s a breezy film more interested in comedy than the rather obligatory action scenes. With Elizabeth Banks (who also directs).
Rating: PG-13, for language, violence
Opening Friday: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Thornton Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall