ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER (Geoffrey Sax). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (October 6). For venues and times, see Movies, page 97. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's hard to reinvent the wheel on spy movies, but you've done something right if you can secure comedic talent like Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry, Andy Serkis and Robbie Coltrane.
It doesn't hurt that the film has a built-in audience - all those young adult boys currently making novelist-turned-screenwriter Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider teen spy series a best-selling enterprise. Forget Agent Cody Banks and its cutesy-loser-makes-good mentality. Rider (Alex Pettyfer), with his quiet confidence, cunning and the training he's gotten from his secretive uncle (Ewan McGregorin a brief blink-and-he's-cashed-his-paycheque appearance), was born to save the world from crazed villain Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke, channelling Jack Sparrow and the ghost of his own once-promising career).
Sure, the movie is low on substance, but it's long on action and style, particularly during the standard narrow-escape-from-death scene. (You know, the one that occurs right after the evil mastermind reveals his destructive plan.) And keeping the violence strictly animated ensures parent-friendly product - a smart strategy.
What Sax really did right, though, was find Pettyfer to play his leading, uh, boy. With his talent and Tiger Beat-approved sex appeal, he might get girls excited about the franchise, too.