I’ve always assumed that any film that opens with the line, "Get off the babysitter … Daddy’s home," must have something going for it, but Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
, which commences with the sort of slam-bang action set-piece that echoes 007’s precredits ordnance insouciance, is simply too much of a loud thing. While the original offered deliriously silly grrrl-power fun that had enough smarts to not present anything any more serious than Cameron Diaz’s exquisite rump-shaking and Crispin Glover’s silent, follicle-mad assassin – the feminized visual equivalent of old-school Beastie Boys smartass panache – this sequel quickly bogs down into the same sort of all-access overkill that also ruined the recent 2 Fast 2 Furious
. A less cohesive action-comedy than its predecessor, Full Throttle
is instead a freewheeling collection of random action sequences strung together with little or no discernible rhyme or reason. You can clearly see the writers (John August, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley) struggling to come up with one breathless bit of badassery after another, with the end result being a witless, tiring mishmash of things that go boom, boom, boom in the night: It’s like a rave with a drunken DJ who just can't seem to get the beats to match. Thankfully, Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu are still as enjoyable to watch as they were in the series' initial salvo. Diaz in particular broadcasts her inner ditz loud and proud, and her megawatt smile and CGI-enhanced peepers (Purple? Violet? Who knows?) remind you of Godzilla just before he lets loose with one of his hell-fire cannonades. Liu, too, gets more mileage from tartan skirts and perky dimples than ought to be humanly possible. If this were one of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser
outings, she’d surely be the Chatterer Cenobite: Just watching her flex that maxillary musculature makes your cheeks ache in sympathy. Barrymore, as the metalhead tomboy of the trio, is the emotional lynchpin here, but that only means she’s been given the expositional dialogue to mouth, and not much more. There’s a subplot involving her Irish mafia, punk rocker ex-boyfriend Seamus O’Grady (Theroux), which allows for plenty of wiggy flashbacks (a McG specialty, apparently), but the real plot is well nigh incomprehensible, an outright MacGuffin that serves only to get the heroic trio from one hair-and-blouse-raisingly adventure to the next. You want a BMX rally with a midair, gun battle pas de deux? No problem. How about Demi Moore as a renegade Angel out to savage Charlie’s ops? Hey, McG can do that, too. And why not a Cape Fear
steal complete with Bernard Herrmann overtones? Geez, why the hell not? The only thing Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
lacks is its predecessor’s sense of disposable pop tomfoolery. This time out, it all seems to be a colossal chore, albeit one with a terrific soundtrack. Rule of thumb: Any film that can waste Crispin Glover has some awfully serious problems. Full Throttle
? Dude, you burned out the clutch.