Stormbreaker (2006)

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Mickey Rourke, Sophie Okonedo, Stephen Fry, Jimmy Carr, Damian Lewis, Robbie Coltrane, Alicia Silverstone, Missy Pyle

Directed by: Geoffrey Sax

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Alicia Silverstone as Jack and Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider in Stormbreaker

'What is this place - Hogwarts?' Hmm, the cute blonde spy kid has a point. For after all, like Hogwarts, this shiny, high-tech 'special branch' of M16 is staffed entirely by stalwart British actors (Sophie Okonedo, a marvellously stiff, grey, moustachioed Bill Nighy, the obligatory Stephen Fry and, somewhat bizarrely, Jimmy Carr). What's more, these CBBC Ms and Qs are not afraid to force young children to face up to danger and even death. Dark and difficult times lie ahead? Well, kind of.

When 14-year-old Alex Rider's uncle Ian is mysteriously killed in an accident (courtesy of a bravura cameo from Ewan McGregor and a really quite thrilling action sequence), he is recruited by his uncle's special branch employers to carry on his work. Which just happens to be investigating the dastardly plans of evil American trailer trash millionaire Darius Sayle (Mickey Rourke, looking freakier than ever under a layer of prosthetic tan and eyeliner - although the scariest thing about his appearance is the horrible feeling you get that some of it might actually be his real face).

Mickey Rourke as Darius Sayle - a proper villain

Like all proper villains, he wears flamboyantly awful outfits, lives in a palatial temple to kitsch and keeps a Portuguese manowar as a pet. Oh and he wants to take over the world. Except actually he doesn't quite, but I won't spoil it for you.

Not that there's really a lot to spoil - the plot is so simple even I can follow it. What's great about this film is the hilariously camp performances (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's Missy Pyle is having a ball as evil 'Allo 'Allo style German dominatrix Nadia Vole, while Alicia Silverstone emerges from the rock marked 'where are they now' to turn in an eccentric but lovable performance as Alex's fiercely loyal housekeeper Jack) and the surprisingly exciting action sequences. Yup, Rider may be too young to drive a car, but that doesn't stop him riding a bike like a demon and kicking karate ass like Van Damme - you go, boy.

The ever marvellous Bill Nighy as Mr Blunt in Stormbreaker

Okay, so Stormbreaker may occasionally come on like a Children's Film Foundation flick with a hugely elevated budget; the plot is utterly implausible and it's always blindingly obvious what's going to happen next; and, it must be said, some of the casting is a little odd (Damian Lewis as a ginger Russian assassin and Robbie Coltrane as the most fatuous (and fat) Prime Minister Britain has ever seen - hmm) but that doesn't stop it from being a fast-paced, funny, feelgood and highly entertaining film.

I guess sometimes it takes a boy to do a man's job. And baby Bond kicks big Bond's ass big time.

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