Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (2006)

Genres - Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Glamorized Spy Film, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Oct 13, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - Germany, United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker is like a British Agent Cody Banks -- which actually already exists, sort of, in the form of Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. The difference is that the lead character (Alex Pettyfer) is actually British, and it's a pretty big one in terms of the film's apparent sophistication level. Pettyfer plays Alex Rider seriously, like a junior spy, rather than comically, like a kid in over his head -- though that doesn't mean we're spared the lame attempts at comedy. There's also a surprising amount of actual death, both among the villains and the good guys. The cast certainly points to it being a more adult entity, featuring the likes of Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Damian Lewis, Sophie Okonedo, and a pre-comeback Mickey Rourke. But it's that pre-comeback Rourke, then a stigma rather than a boon, who really tips us off that Alex Rider is a low-rent enterprise. A silly appearance by Alicia Silverstone as Alex's nanny, in a hardly relevant role that just increases the misplaced humor quotient, doesn't help. Alex Rider was caught trying to appeal to both teens and preteens, both Brits and Americans, and also keeping the plot developments mature enough for adults. The piddling U.S. box office (less than one million dollars) proved that the film could not have it both -- or maybe all three -- ways. Its execution is not what you would call "inept," but at every turn, the film proves itself "less than." Particularly cringe-worthy are the song choices. Five years past the height of their popularity and totally misapplied, songs like the Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc." play during a paramilitary training sequence, while Paul Oakenfold's "Ready Steady Go" attempts to donate kinetic energy to a would-be chase scene on horseback, which is laughably inert.