out of Five
Running time: 102
Enjoyable comedy thriller (basically ‘Spy Kid’ or ‘James Bond Jnr’), thanks to good performances and a neat blend of gadgets and gags.
Agent Cody Banks is an attempt by 20th Century Fox to have a ‘teen spy’ franchise to rival that of Buena Vista’s Spy Kids. To that end, it’s had its release date shifted smartly forward in order to get the drop on Spy Kids 3-D, which opens on August 1st.
To be fair, on the evidence of Agent Cody Banks, there’s enough here to present a serious threat. The studio certainly think so – they’ve already cranked up the Franchise Machine and put Agent Cody Banks 2 into production.
Underage Special Agent
Frankie Muniz (Malcolm from ‘Malcolm in the Middle’) plays Cody Banks, a seemingly ordinary teenager with a big secret – he’s actually an elite undercover agent for the CIA.
His latest mission involves romancing the daughter (Hilary Duff, from ‘Lizzie Maguire’) of an important scientist (Martin Donovan) in order to foil the plot of Evil Genius Ian McShane.
However, when he starts his assignment the CIA quickly realise their mistake – they’ve spent ten million dollars training him at a special camp, but they’ve forgotten to teach him how to talk to girls…
Muniz is an extremely likeable actor and the fact that Banks is meant to be pathologically shy around girls offers a handy point of identification for its target audience. Duff makes an appealing co-star too, though she has an inexplicably gruesome moment towards the end that really ought to make Banks wonder if she’s entirely suitable.
Sterling Work From Support
The supporting cast are equally good, particularly Angie Harmon (who looks a lot like Ali MacGraw) as Banks’ red leather catsuit-clad “handler”, who is, frankly, hot (as the script points out on a regular basis, in case you missed it). There’s good work too from Ian McShane (memorably slimy), Martin Donovan (seriously in danger of being typecast in absent-minded professor roles) and The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo as McShane’s henchman.
Basically, Agent Cody Banks delivers on all fronts – the gadgets are cool, the stunts and fight scenes are well-shot and exciting (despite some dodgy CGI work at the end) and the script contains enough decent lines to keep you smiling throughout. There’s also a good James Bond-lite soundtrack by John Powell.
In short, Agent Cody Banks is definitely worth seeing and it’s certainly good enough to warrant a potential franchise. Dare we hope for Cody Banks vs Spy Kids in the future?