Wednesday 27th October 2021

Stormbreaker (PG)
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Lord of the Rings and now some blond kid called Alex Rider. It seems adapting children's books for the big screen is the way to do things these days. Anthony Horowitz is the man behind this latest adaptation, being the author of his junior spy novel series as well as the screenwriter of the film.

The Riders take their games of Tug of War very seriously
The Riders take their games of Tug of War very seriously

Alex Rider is a fourteen year old English school boy whose Uncle is a spy. His Uncle has also been training Alex to become a spy, although he is blissfully unaware of all this. So it comes as quite a shock when his Uncle gets whacked out while on a mission and MI6 come to recruit Alex to take down his Uncle's killer.

This film has got plenty going for it, from a huge fan base and popular source material, to some great filming locations and a fabulous cast. Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry, Mickey Rourke, Alicia Silverstone, Robbie Coltrane, Damian Lewis, Jimmy Carr, Sophie Okonedo and Andy Serkis all feature, as well as the young star Alex Pettyfer.

Unfortunately, many of these actors fail to come through with their heads held high: several of them make fleeting and forgettable cameos, and the others have gone for a really hammy, no-sense-of-danger, score-a-cheap-laugh-from-the-kids approach. This is in keeping with the film's air of too much "comedy", too PG and not enough danger and suspense. Ironically, despite a couple of bad deliveries, Pettyfer can probably take the prize for sturdiest performance, and definitely has the look of a screen star.

There are other annoying bits in the film, parts where you'll wonder why the bad guy doesn't just shoot someone, or why all the gangsters have outrageous cock-er-ney accents, but my biggest beef is that it's really too childish. I understand it's a kids' film, but I know a certain eight year old girl who would rather watch a James Bond film than this watered down version, and who am I to argue with her?

It is good to see a proper British production though, filmed and set entirely in the UK, and if this film has a strength, in my view, it is the use of London as a location. There are some breathtaking chase sequences around Central London in which the city really steals the show. Hopefully in the future we can look upon this as the start of a franchise that got better and better, rather than a forgettable James Bond Jnr knock off that's too PG for it's own good. Fingers crossed for a bigger and better sequel!

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Length: 93 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 21st July 2006

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