Movie review: 'Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker'

  • Updated: October 12, 2006 - 4:35 PM

At the center of this ambitious and enjoyably silly teen thriller is 14-year-old Alex (Alex Pettyfer), an orphan whose globe-trotting uncle has raised him with training in martial arts, languages and extreme sports. What Alex doesn't realize until his guardian's untimely death is that uncle was a secret agent, and he was grooming Alex as his replacement. The schoolboy is promptly pressed into service as a teenage superspy by the head of Britain's espionage service, and assigned to penetrate the operation of a computer mogul who has suspiciously offered free laptops to every student in the nation. With a raft of Bond-style gadgets at his disposal, including a metal-dissolving acne ointment and a grappling hook yo-yo, Alex steps in to thwart a doomsday plot, save the prime minister from assassination, and get the girl.

The film's intergenerational twist on the standard spy film dynamic is that almost all the grown-ups, good and bad alike, are creepy manipulators. Pettyfer makes a handsome but not especially expressive junior hero. Director Geoffrey Sax gives the film a polished, high-budget look, presenting the fluffy material straight while occasionally winking at its essential silliness.

  • **½ out of four stars Rated PG for sequences of action violence and some peril.
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