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Originally published October 13, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 13, 2006 at 11:21 AM

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Movie Review

"Alex Rider": Send this spy kid back to school

A pointless junior version of James Bond minus the budget (and the suaveness), Geoffrey Sax's "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" slips...

Seattle Times movie critic

A pointless junior version of James Bond minus the budget (and the suaveness), Geoffrey Sax's "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" slips into town quietly this weekend, playing only at the Auburn 17. It's hardly worth the drive: The film, based on Anthony Horowitz's popular series of novels, is a classic example of Read the Book Instead. The adaptation is awkward, the characters one-note (the most interesting thing about hero Alex is his blond highlights, which are livelier than much of the dialogue) and the experience underwhelming.

Those taking hope from the film's impressive lineup of British stars, be forewarned: Most of them are barely in the movie. Young Alex (Alex Pettyfer) learns that his uncle (Ewan McGregor, gone in a flash) was a high-placed spy in the British intelligence service, and soon the teen is recruited (by Bill Nighy and Sophie Okonedo, camping it up) as a spy himself. Assisted by his housekeeper (Alicia Silverstone), Alex learns how to use gadgets, faces a mysterious billionaire (Mickey Rourke), and saves the world. (Did you think he wouldn't?)

Movie review1.5 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker," with Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor, Robbie Coltrane, Alicia Silverstone, Sophie Okonedo, Stephen Fry. Directed by Geoffrey Sax, from a screenplay by Anthony Horowitz, based on a novel by Horowitz. 93 minutes. Rated PG for sequences of action violence and some peril. Auburn 17.

A few funny moments register as the story races along. Nighy, in powdered-white skin and nerd glasses, gives a nice twist to the line "We don't trust anyone. It's sort of ... what we do"; Stephen Fry lends a welcome enthusiasm to a tiny role as a gadgets-maker. Silverstone, however, seems hopelessly miscast (giving a very weird performance that mostly involves twisting up her face), and the handsome Pettyfer lacks the charisma — and, for that matter, the screenplay — to register as a hero.

Send this franchise back to spy school, and fast.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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