Based on the best-selling adventure series from Anthony “Midsomer Murders” Horowitz - which has sold over 10 million copies worldwide - “Stormbreaker” plays out like James Bond for schoolboys.
When his secret agent uncle (McGregor) is killed in the line of duty, 14-year-old posh bloke Alex (Pettyfer) is forcibly recruited by MI6 to take his place.
After a spot of surprisingly simple SAS training he is then sent to spy on Darrius Sayle (Rourke), a megalomaniacal tech baron hell bent on killing every school kid in the country.
Director Geoffrey “White Noise” Sax engineers a string of entertaining set-pieces, including a high-speed chase across the Isle of Man and a traffic-stopping horseback pursuit through London.
Admittedly, Pettyfer is a fairly bland Prince William-style leading man, but there are a number of decent turns from the supporting cast. Silverstone adds some sex appeal as Alex’s American nanny, Fry impresses as gadget man Smithers - he supplies Alex with metal-melting zit cream and a dart-firing fountain - and Nighy steals numerous scenes with nothing more than a well-timed eyebrow raise.
The ending is left open for a sequel and, with five books left in Horowitz’s series, Alex Rider may prove to be a decent rival to Harry Potter over the next few years.
Despite bordering on “Austin Powers” parody at times, “Stormbreaker” is a fast-paced, light-hearted adventure that will be loved by teenagers and happily tolerated by parents.
Staring: Bill Nighy, Alex Pettyfer, Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Silverstone, Damian Lewis, Mickey Rourke, Ashley Walters, Andy Serkis, Stephen Fry
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax