Owen Gleiberman
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Current Status
In Season
106 minutes
Wide Release Date
Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Crispin Glover, Shia LaBeouf, Matt LeBlanc, Bernie Mac, Demi Moore, Robert Patrick, Justin Theroux, Luke Wilson
guest performer
Jaclyn Smith
Columbia Pictures
John August
Comedy, ActionAdventure

We gave it a B+

Pigtails, leather catsuits, and sky-blue nuns’ habits; dirt-bike flips and highway street-luge zips; ”strategic” lapdances and mechanical bull rides; the emaciated devil grin of Demi Moore. It’s not every thriller that can make James Bond look as if he’s taking his work far too seriously, but that’s the junk glory of the ”Charlie’s Angels” films, with their Espionage Barbie role playing and thrillingly timed kitsch kinetics.

From the opening sequence of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, in which Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu do battle with a horde of Mongolian goons, it’s clear that the three stars have hardly had their fill of girl-on-girl action bonding. Without a scuff on their dimples, they ride the tops of crashing helicopters, shake their rumps to ”U Can’t Touch This” and an S&M Vegas version of the ”Pink Panther” theme, and leap and kick like superheroine ballerinas, their bodies twisting and twirling with sexy symmetry, then slowing down for an instant, then speeding up again, like something out of a bullet-time shampoo commercial.

The fight scenes, for all their ”Matrix”-y derivativeness, have a special charge, since the director, McG, stages them as mini spectacles of ”masculine” style converted into pure feminine force: Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu are on top, bucking and riding the movie’s action chassis. It’s always a trick to infuse a blockbuster sequel with the joy of the original, but McG, who’s got priceless jukebox instincts, knows just how to match crash-and-burn motorcycle flips with a song like Prodigy’s ”Breathe” to create a maximum jolt of bubblegum nihilism. In essence, he’s figured out a way to stretch the style of cool TV advertising into a movie’s total substance, yet he makes that an irresistible McChievement. Let’s face it: Chick power was never this yummy.

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