Perhaps it's that everything is so British, or that the opus is based on the first of a series of Alex Rider novels by screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, but
plays with, well, not complete authenticity, but more-than-expected authenticity. Then again, as the School Library Journal review of the first Rider book suggested, "Warning: Suspend reality." Despite the seasoned players engaging the story without a Bondian wink in sight -- not even at the name of Alex's school girlfriend, Sabina Pleasure (Sarah Bolger) -- the various acts of derring-do and infiltration come all too easy for the young Rider. (What's really hard is taking the over-the-top performance of Missi Pyle who, as Sayle's number-one gal Nadia Vole, seems to have been directed by Mel Brooks at his looniest.) Not so much due to the boys-with-toys gizmos -- including a smoke-bomb Nintendo DS -- that help Alex in his quest, but more due to the earnest performances,
doesn't carry the kid charm of similar American predecessor
Agent Cody Banks. That leaves matters in the hands of Pettyfer and his considerable charisma, and it's those tweenaged boys who would like to be like him and those tweenaged girls who would like to be beside him that are the likeliest respondents here.
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor, Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Silverstone, Missi Pyle, Sarah Bolger, Ashley Walters, Damian Lewis, Robbie Coltrane, Stephen Fry, Andy Serkis and Jimmy Carr
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Screenwriter: Anthony Horowitz
Producers: Marc Samuelson, Peter Samuelson, Steve Christian and Andreas Grosch
Rating: PG for sequences of action violence and some peril
Running time: 93 min.
Release date: October 13