Agent Cody Banks
- Reviewed by: Avril Carruthers
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Current Rating 7.41/10 | 27 Votes
Directed by Harald Zwart
Written by Jeffrey Jurgensen (story), Ashley Edward Miller & Zach Stentz, Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (screenplay).
Produced by David C Glasser, Andreas Klein, Gus Oseary, Dylan Sellers, David Nicksay.
Starring Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Angie Harmon, Keith David, Cynthia Stevenson, Arnold Vosloo, Ian McShane, Daniel Roebuck, Darrell Hammond
Teenager Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz) leads a double life. Average high school student with an obnoxious younger brother and painfully shy around girls, he is also a highly trained junior CIA agent whose adventures and gadgets resemble James Bond’s. If only he had Bond’s suave confidence around the opposite sex. His impressive skateboarding skills are evident early in the movie when he thinks nothing of saving a child in a runaway car on his way to school and afterwards modestly skateboards away in the style of the best caped action hero before stunned eyewitnesses can identify him or even work out what happened.
Cody’s first mission is, of course, nothing less than to save the world from evil types who want to use cutting edge nanotechnology as weapons of mass destruction with a view to controlling the world. To do this Cody must get close to the beauteous Natalie (Hilary Duff), whose father is the scientist developing nanobots with the naïve notion of saving the planet from, say, oil spills, among other things. Naturally the evil types have take-over designs in his direction first.
Cody’s CIA handler – ‘I am not your partner, I’m your handler. Like in the zoo.’ – is Agent Ronica Miles (super-fox Angie Harmon in tight red leather), who is being punished for her tendency to anger mis-management by being given fifteen year old Cody and a save-the-world mission. Sure, sounds logical. She bursts into his life by crashing his school locker room, kicking ass and generally silencing the smart-alec kids’ comments with a little over-reactive impact. As it unfolds, however, the relationship between Ronica and Cody is one of the best elements of the movie, for the most part sparkling with abrasive comic chemistry which softens to a more real relationship and respect.
Among the essential gadgets every junior agent on a save-the-world mission should have are some suction cups for walking on the ceiling, a watch/stun gun and low-penetration X-ray sunglasses which function equally well to spot firearms hidden beneath clothing and intriguing women’s underwear, as Cody quickly finds out. As well as a deluxe limited edition BMW skateboard called the ‘Street Carver’, Cody gets some state-of-the-art vehicles including a Snow Hawk jetski, an incredible vertical lift solo flying machine called the Solotrek XFV, and the space age Apollo fuel cell Silver Volt electric car. Oh, and a red Ferrari. Some nifty trick driving and chase scenes complete the set. Over to you, James Bond.
Some of the funniest scenes involve Cody being coached by various nerdy CIA geeks in how to chat up a girl, the one ability he apparently doesn’t have. Thankfully none of their advice is followed too closely and Cody does just fine when it comes down to it. Cody has a reasonable character arc, coming back to his unknowing parents with one more skill under his belt.
Undoubtedly the novelty of Agent Cody Banks is in the junior James Bond element, the special effects (the metal-eating nanobots are terrifyingly swift), the terrific sets, stunts and chases. However, comparing it with Spy Kids is inevitable, and were it not for the very personable Frankie Muniz (and also perhaps Angie Harmon), the latter’s technological brilliance - among other things - makes it superior on almost every count. While a young audience will probably love it anyway, it’s just a little too slick, the plot too glibly improbable, the characters a touch too stereotyped, for adult audiences.
Avril Carruthers, September 23rd 2003
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