Film review: Stormbreaker (2006), directed by Geoffrey Sax
Based on a novel by Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker is about 14-year-old Alex Rider (Alex Pettyfer) who lives with his uncle Ian (Ewan McGregor) and nanny Jack (Alicia Silverstone) in the posher part of London. Ian has a boring job with a bank and ends up dead in a traffic accident in Cornwall. Attending the funeral are some friends from the bank, such as the boss Mr. Blunt (Bill Nighy), Mrs. Jones (Sophie Okonedo) and Mr. Crawford (Jimmy Carr). And as it turns out, they’re not from the bank at all … but in fact, special forces … MI6. And they want Alex to work for them!
Meanwhile, rich creep Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke) is offering a computer system called Stormbreaker to every school in the UK. It has cool virtual reality stuff and everything, and one lucky winner gets to visit the headquarters in Cornwall (guess where uncle Ian had been working undercover?), and that person is of course Alex.
You wouldn’t be a very good baddie if you weren’t in cahoots with another baddie, like the Russian Gregorovich (Damian Lewis), and have his own minions: the cold Nadia Vole (Missi Pyle) and Mr. Grin (Andy Serkis).
The film also features Robbie Coltrane as the Prime Minister and Stephen Fry as Smithers, a man working at Hamley’s, the huge toy shop in London. You know Q from the James Bond films? Every secret agent needs a gadget man, and Smithers is the one.
Stormbreaker reminds me a lot of the classic James Bond films, except it’s got a much younger secret agent, it’s not busy trying to come up with double entendres and shagging beautiful women, and on the whole there’s a lot less drinking and smoking. This is good. Okay, it has Alex Pettyfer instead of Sean Connery, but I can live with that, just because there’s less of the cheese that makes the original James Bond franchise laughable. In this film, the baddies are evil, in a fun, stereotypical sort of way, like a Bond villain should be, and the heroes are heroic. Perhaps what Alex lacks in experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm, and the girl he fancies is realistic, and doesn’t throw herself at him.
Jimmy Carr was a surprise to see – didn’t know he had done any acting. Not that his acting was very different from how he is on TV, granted, but he didn’t get to crack one-liners. Missi Pyle is excellent as an over-the-top German (I’m guessing she’s German, she sounds like a stereotypical German baddie), and Andy Serkis looks like he could be the brother of The Joker. Alicia Silverstone I’m not very keen on, but she wasn’t in the movie a whole lot – which is, sadly, also the case of Ewan McGregor, as he gets killed off in the first 5-10 minutes of the film.
As long as you don’t take it too seriously, Stormbreaker is good fun, especially for a younger audience. It’s full of big names, shot in the UK and even though it has some American actors, it still feels as if it’s a thoroughly British film. Nice bit of (predictable) mystery, lots of action and suspense. Not the best film in the world, but still a decent 3 out of 5 product placements (the Yamaha bikes and BMW car, I could live with. The Nintendo DS was painfully obvious).