Alex Rider (Alex Peffyter) is called into action by MI6 after his secret agent Uncle dies during an assignment. The mission to investigate the dastardly doings of Darrius Sayle (Mickey Rourke) is passed onto Alex. He discovers Darrius has plans for a computer virus to wipe out the nation’s school children. With the help of various high tech gadgets, Alex tries to live up to the fame of his Uncle whilst making sure his school assignments are handed in on time.
Movies ripped off from the James Bond series are nothing new. From the Matt Helm flicks of the 60s thru to the Spy Kids franchise of the 2000s, the ’sub Bond genre’ has been a thriving enterprise. This latest wrinkle in the genre is based on a series of popular books by Anthony Horowitz, firmly showing off a very British hero, always facing his villains with the stiffest of upper lips. In this world, there are only upper class heroes/villains who fight each other in the finest of Armani suits.
Mickey Rourke as the chief baddie does well and fills out his character with enough quirky touches to make him memorable. Disturbingly looking like The Joker from the Batman comics, Rourke deliciously rolls off the campy dialogue whilst delivering each line with a grotesque smile. Alex Peffyter is serviceable as the hero, giving a performance that is expected without stretching himself. The very large cast also includes Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry and Robbie Coltrane, who are all sadly underused in very clichéd roles.
The acting style and tone of the film never really meshes together, with some actors seemingly confused as to how to play their characters. One moment the deadly seriousness of the plot shows potential, but things quickly descend into farce with scenes clearly played for laughs. Peffyter and Rourke are the only actors who play their roles consistently throughout, but with everyone else hamming it up for all its worth, both men don’t stand a chance of success. The screenplay is generally well structured, with the actions scenes showing off the British locations to advantage.
Teenage spies have perfectly been captured by the Spy Kids films, which had direction, and followed the path at full throttle. Stormbreaker seems to be a ‘greatest hits’ of the spy genre, adding nothing new of its own. The undemanding kiddie/teenage set might lap this caper up, but everyone else may feel they’ve seen things done much better elsewhere. As a start of a potential franchise, the film gets off to a wobbly start, and needs to know how to play things out to guarantee any further outings.
Rating out of 10: 5
Crime boss Duncan (Gary Sweet) rules Melbourne gangs with an iron fist, relying on his loyal henchmen, including Macbeth (Sam Worthington). Macbeth destroys the loyalty, after a visit by three angels who tell him he’s destined for greatness. Plotting with his wife Lady Macbeth (Victoria Hill), they both set out to take over the underworld for themselves. The price of ambition and greed becomes ever more potent as they both climb the crooked ladder of deceit.
Re-interpretations of Shakespeare’s works have been created hundreds of years after the great mans passing. The most famous recent cinematic example is the 1996 version of Romeo & Juliet. The gaudy neon colour of that film has been replaced here by a brooding blackness, which reflects the blackness inherent in Macbeth’s cold heart. Sam Worthington plays his role very well, showing a man crumbling under the weight of continuing madness, whilst plotting the next ganghit. He spouts Shakespeare’s poetic words reasonably effectively, although an awkwardness in delivery is evident, with he and the other actors trying too hard to do them justice.
The multi faceted cast all do well in their parts, with Director Geoffrey Wright concentrating on their style of movement, as well as the dialogue. One glance from certain characters tells the audience all they need to know, increasing the feeling of impending dread. Victoria Hill, Lachy Hill are both excellent in their pivotal roles, serving as a conduit for Macbeth’s decimated soul. Comedian Mick Molloy and his brother appear as assassins, showing off Wright’s daring touch at casting against type.
Dressing up the Bards words in a modern setting is nothing new, with his timeless works being easily adaptable. The masterful structure of his play is in evidence here, with a basic plot that could mirror today’s society. The whole film appears as a study in psychological breakdown, with one man’s lust for power bringing everyone down with him. The cinematography brings out the darkness of the gang world, and only uses day scenes sparsely. Colour is kept to a bare minimum, with Wright focusing on performances rather than surroundings. Wright uses several quirky directorial flourishes, even having the end credits play backwards.
Not as commercially accessible as Bazz Luhrmann’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, ‘Macbeth’ still packs a powerful punch. The fine acting and directing style do justice to the play, with the more quiet sombre moments adding layers to an already great story.
Rating out of 10: 7