Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (12A)

There was always going to be a sequel, but few people reckoned on it becoming the comeback vehicle for Demi Moore.

It’s ten years since Moore conquered Hollywood with Indecent Proposal. For a brief period she was the biggest female star in the world until a string of flops showed she had feet of clay. Then, after divorcing Bruce Willis she dropped out to raise her kids in relative obscurity, and pundits reckoned she might be out for good.

No one would have thought she’d come back as chief villainess in this cheesy amalgam of bad Bond gags, OTT stunts and wafer-thin plot. Still, here she is proving, at 40, that age has not wearied her. In fact, having allegedly forked out $380,000 on sculpting the body beautiful, she looks better than returning angels Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore.

A tremendously silly opening credits sequence sees our three angels rescuing an agent (Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick) from the hands of Far Eastern bad guys in a scene lifted straight from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Except, in this one, Indiana Jones is replaced by a giggling Diaz in white furs, boots and stockings as a Swedish blonde replete with dodgy accent who rides a bucking bronco to provide cover while Liu and Barrymore steal their man.

The plot, or what passes for it, progresses when two rings, each containing vital information about the US witness protection programme, are stolen. Patrick had one, a US Marshall (Bruce Willis in a brief cameo) the other. With the American authorities fretting about who may be at risk, and who may be after them, the angels are put on the rings’ trail.

From the outset Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is ridiculously, engagingly daft. Director McG packs it to the gills with beautiful images of his beautiful triumvirate of babes then throws in hard-bodied Moore for further delectation.

The super-fast action and stuntwork – Diaz surfs in a barely-there bikini, the angels foil an assassination plot during a rip-roaring motorcycle race, and together they save Patrick while inside a helicopter rapidly plummeting to earth – barely stops and, when it does, McG diverts audience attention by presenting Diaz and Co in a succession of mouth-watering costumes. It looks and feels like it’s straight out of a video arcade game.

Throw in more cameos from the likes of Carrie Fisher, and guest spots from John Cleese (phoning in his performance as Liu’s unlikely dad), Matt Le Blanc, Luke Wilson and Robert Forster, and Full Throttle becomes merely a succession of silly vignettes.

Yet, oddly, it all works. The jokes are lame, the performances self-indulgent and the action utterly silly, but the makers of the Bond franchise could learn a thing or two here. Whereas the 007 series urges audiences to be impressed by and believe what that particular superhero can do, here the drama and adventure is so deliberately fantastical that only a nincompoop could soak it up as real.

Film buffs will enjoy spotting the frequent movie references – aside from Raiders they include Flashdance, Cape Fear, Terminator 2 and, bizarrely, The Sound of Music – while die-hard fans of the ‘70s series will appreciate the ghost-like appearance of original TV angel Jaclyn Smith.

Oh, and Demi Moore. She strides through the proceedings looking luscious in leather, fine in fur and eye-poppingly impressive in not-very-much-at-all. Dads should take note and ensure they take their kids to this one, and not the missus.

Star rating: ***

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