An important fact to know about the new Charlie’s Angels movie is that Noah Centineo is in it. How can his presence in the film possibly be important when he receives not first, not second, not third but 12th billing? Also, who is Noah Centineo? If you’re asking, you’ve clearly been playing hooky when it comes to Netflix’s new original-movie empire aimed at teens, a genre in which Centineo is the big man on campus.
So who is this guy? The 23-year-old actor had previously appeared in a Disney Channel movie and The Fosters, the Freeform drama series. But when Netflix’s teen rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before became an immediate sensation upon its release in August 2018, so did Centineo. In the movie, he plays Peter Kavinsky, the popular high school boy who agrees to pretend to be prim heroine Lara Jean’s boyfriend before—swoon—falling for her for real. He sold it with a low-key Mark Ruffalo–ish affability and a head full of rumpled-but-not-totally-out-of-control hair.
That was all it took for teen Netflix subscribers to fall for him, and before even a month had passed, his Instagram following had jumped from 791,000 to 9.5 million. (It’s now 17.3 million.)
But Centineo’s heartthrob status differs in one important way from the teen idols that came before him. As the Ringer put it last year, “Netflix has become a new mint for emerging teen idols, like a Mickey Mouse Club on steroids. And the new entertainers they’re introducing to the world aren’t just getting famous, they’re getting Netflix famous.” To be Neflix famous meant to rise to stardom at a speed and scale that was previously unthinkable: Imagine 130 million subscribers in 190 countries, all of whom could take in the latest original teen movie in the same weekend. A person could, and Centineo did, get very, very famous without adults or most people outside the teen demographic learning who he was. After To All the Boys, Centineo became a cottage industry on Netflix, having already starred in and going on to star in several more rom-coms that algorithms could seamlessly direct young people toward.
That brings us to Charlie’s Angels, Centineo’s all-important first movie after his To All the Boys breakout and a calculated step outside the Netflix bubble. The Centineo fan’s first impression may be one of disappointment: He’s only in the movie for a few minutes, though luckily, and unsurprising, he plays the love interest of one of the three angels. (That’s what you call Noah Centineo to do.) His character, Langston, works alongside Naomi Scott’s Elena as, presumably, also a super-hacker engineer type at a tech giant, the idea of which is only matched in absurdity by the sight of him in a lab coat.
Because he’s pals with his co-worker and Kristen Stewart’s Sabina is off being as queer as the movie will allow her to be, it’s left to the remaining angel, Ella Balinska’s Jane, to catch feelings. This feels about as random as the film’s setting (Hamburg, Germany for some reason), but whatever, it kind of works. When the angels infiltrate Elena’s former workplace to steal a crucial MacGuffin, Jane and Langston end up in a lab together, and instead of trying to stop her like every single other person in the company, Langston finds her whole stealth routine cute. They have a moment over a sandwich. Centineo’s charms are hinted at, but not, sadly, used to their fullest capacity. Later, because the movie forgets about him and needs to bring him back, he manifests out of nowhere, popping out of a wardrobe in a mansion where the angels’ final showdown takes place. More flirting ensues.
For the non-teen, or, if such a thing even exists, non-Netflix-subscribers among the audience, the actor may feel out of place in the movie, and may even solicit confusion, as in, what’s the big deal about that guy? Why is he even here? Is his appeal only understood when you watch him playing a 16-year-old unrealistically dreamy boyfriend? Is there a future for Centineo outside of playing an increasingly old teen on Netflix? Charlie’s Angels won’t earn him any new fans, but the Centineo hive will at least hold out until the February 2020 release of the To All the Boys sequel. Ideally, his devastating current haircut will have grown out a bit in time for that press tour. Far be it that Centineo himself become just another boy we loved before.
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