Saturday, June 4, 2016

Charlie’s Angels 1:13 “Angel Trap"

Airdate: 1/5/77

Some bad-ass dude is killing Charlie’s WWII colleagues, the most recent victim being a poolgoer evidently trying to recreate the finale of The Great Gatsby. The culprit appears to be a highly trained and experienced assassin, all the more worrisome for the Angels’ client, a former commander named John Kamden, who fears that he will be next in line. A mysterious French woman named Janine offers up the suggestion that their man may be named Jericho, who once worked for the Allies, and so the Angels, using a well-protected Kamden as bait, attempt to entrap him with a combination of coordinated teamwork, feminine wiles and crafty machinations. Jericho eventually leans of the ruse, but he’s taken down by the Good Guys before he can do anything with the knowledge, and we ultimately learn of his hire for a French politician who wanted ex-soldiers taken out who knew anything of his WWII-era “special skills.”

It may be hard to believe now, but one of the most influential films of the 70s was The Day of the Jackal – it pretty much invented the character of the quiet assassin, whose every move, random as it might seem, was entirely calculated for getting the job done. As we’ve already seen Charlie’s Angels wasn’t exactly shy about exploiting current trends, but I’m certainly not gonna complain about their imitation of such a fine film, especially when it’s done this well. The shooting sequences are done with just the right kind of hair-trigger suspense, particularly the climactic one, involving a park, a hot dog vendor and a pet kitty.

But there’s another arresting element here, that of the titular “trap,” in which Jill builds an undercover relationship with Jericho, building one lie on top of another so he won’t suspect her identity. She shows atypical vulnerability after he realizes her betrayal – another instance where an Angel is allowed to be “human,” something which occurs far too infrequently on the show.

Unlike its inspirations, this episode’s plot is reasonably easy to follow, after a pretty information-heavy intro (don’t be late for this one), and the debriefing scene isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. But in between it’s really just a cat and mouse game, and Fernando Lamas as Jericho is delightful with his quasi-Euro accent, playing the debonair, Italian leather jacket-clad smoothie for maximum effect. The same can hardly be said for John Larch as Kamden, delivering his lines with such marble-mouthed incoherence I had to repeatedly go back on my DVD to figure out what the hell he was saying (and unfortunately he has most of the plot-elaborating dialogue). 
Sabrina, the card-playing Angel

But on balance I was entertained throughout. An intriguing, gripping yarn this side of John LeCarre.

Client: John Kamden

Plot difficulty level: 6  (mostly for the beginning and end)

Rating: ***1/2

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